Waterways File Review & Research

MassDEP has over 20,000 Chapter 91 Licenses and plans, dating back to 1866. The public is welcome to review these documents upon request.

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Waterways File Review Procedures

MassDEP's Waterways Research provides citizens with over 20,000 Chapter 91 Licenses and plans dating back to 1866. The public may conduct Waterways-related research using our records that are available electronically. Many Chapter 91 licenses and plans are available electronically, and research requests for those records can generally be handled without the need for an in-person appointment. To request information to facilitate research remotely please email DEP.Waterways@mass.gov or call 617-292-5929 and provide the following information about your research request:

  1. Your name
  2. Your email address (or phone number if preferred)
  3. Address where the subject property is located
  4. If the property does not have a traditional street address, please also include a map indicating the location of the site.
  5. Details on the information you are requesting (e.g., copies of any licenses, plans, etc.).

To make the most of your research efforts, please be prepared with information pertaining to the Waterways license or property you are interested in. Helpful information includes the Waterways License number, name of present licensee, previous owners of the property (this information is available through a deed search), locus maps indicating the property in relation to the nearest waterbody, and any License numbers for adjacent properties.

File Review Procedure:

Since MassDEP’s Headquarters moved to 100 Cambridge Street in December 2022, all paper-based license files, maps and other resources are stored off-site and must be requested in advance before staff can provide copies of any records.

Specific procedures for making such requests and the timeline for delivery of paper records continue to be developed by the Department. Parties requesting copies of licenses, application materials, or other records will be advised if the materials they are requesting are available electronically to be provided upon request, or alternatively, if off-site file retrieval is required. Any records that require scanning or copying will be provided after files have been retrieved.

Waterways staff will assist you in your research efforts. They will provide you with an electronic copy of a spreadsheet with a list of available Chapter 91 records, and staff can assist by answering questions, but generally you must conduct your own research.

You may also use property deeds to research a Waterways License. All Waterways Licenses issued by the Waterways Regulation Program are required to be recorded within the chain of title for the property containing the licensed structure or activity. You may be able to obtain Waterways license information by researching the subject property's deed at the appropriate Registry of Deeds for the county in which the property is located.

Photocopies or Electronic copies may be provided to you upon request, depending on the volume of records requested. The charge for photocopying is $0.20 per page, and certain high-volume record requests may be subject to additional administrative fees. Electronic copies will be provided through email with access via a dedicated file transfer protocol. Payment must be made at the time the copies are made, by a check made out to The Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We cannot accept cash. Municipal and state agency representatives are exempt from photocopy fees.

Beginning in October of 2020, the Waterways licensing process initiated transitioning to an online application platform, and as of July of 2022, all Waterways applications are submitted through this process. All application materials submitted through the ePLACE portal are available for public viewing at the following website which can be searched using the address, applicant name, or application number.

Search EEA Projects (opens the ePlace public access portal)

Waterways staff are not authorized to make a determination of jurisdiction during this time. If you are interested in receiving a formal Determination of Applicability, please submit the application and the associated fee.

Additional Resources for Waterways File Review Procedures

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