Guide 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, by appointment.

Waterways File Review by Appointment

The public is welcome to conduct Waterways-related research, by appointment, on Wednesdays during the hours of 9 AM to 3 PM. To schedule a Waterways research appointment, please call (617)292-5929 at least two days in advance of your desired research appointment date so that we may schedule a Waterways staff member to assist you with your research needs. When you call, please provide specific information about your research request, including: your name, your phone number, the city or town where the subject property is located, a description of the subject property, and whether you have ever conducted Waterways research with us before. You may also fax Waterways research requests to 617-292-5696, or email them to DEP.Waterways@state.ma.us. Please provide the same information as above, including a map indicating the location of the site.

To make the most of your research efforts, please come prepared with information pertaining to the Waterways license or property you are interested in. Helpful information includes: 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 other streets where the property is located.

The Waterways Research Room is located on the 5th floor in the Boston Office of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, One Winter Street, Boston, Massachusetts.

File Review Procedure

The Waterways Research Room contains over 20,000 Chapter 91 Licenses and plans dating back to 1866. About one-third of these licenses include large-scale plans filed separately by license number. The majority of the licenses contain plans prepared on 8-1/2"x11" sheets that are filed together with the licenses. The older licenses and plans are originals, while the newer ones are official copies of the originals that have been filed at the Registry of Deeds where the license is recorded.

A Waterways staff person will assist you in your research efforts. He or she will review the information that you provide and determine if it is possible to locate the site and any pertinent licenses. Once you have been oriented to the Research Room, the staff person will be available to answer questions, but generally you must conduct your own research.

The Waterways staff person is 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 appropriate application (see link below) and the associated fee.

You can also use property deeds to research a Waterways License. All Waterways Licenses issued by the Waterways Regulation Program are required to be recorded upon the deed 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 can be provided to you while you are in the office. The charge for photocopying is $0.20 per page. 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. You may also bring in a CD for us to make copies for you of the older maps that have been digitized.

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