MassDEP Boston Office

Headquarters of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

About MassDEP's Boston Office

MassDEP's Boston Office coordinates the work of our four regional offices and environmental laboratory. The public may review Chapter 91 files at the Boston Office by appointment

Additional Resources for

Chapter 91 Waterways File Review by Appointment

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 or, by appointment. 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 or to schedule a Waterways research appointment, please email 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.

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 other streets where the property is located.

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. 

Specific procedures for making such requests and the timeline for delivery of paper records continue to be developed by the Department.  Parties requesting a file review appointment will be advised if the materials they are requesting are available electronically or, alternatively, if file retrieval is required. Any necessary in-person appointments will be scheduled once 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. Staff can assist by answering questions, but generally you must conduct your own research.

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.

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 during your research appointment, depending on the volume of photocopying requested. The charge for photocopying is $0.20 per page. Electronic copies will be provided through email with access via a dedicated platform. 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.

Electronic Waterways License GeoDatabase - Pilot Project:

The Waterways Regulation Program is working with the University of Massachusetts-Boston to develop an electronic database of existing Waterways Licenses and their geographic location, using New Bedford and Cape Cod's Pleasant Bay as pilot areas.

This new database will enable the Department to copy and archive these licenses electronically and to identify their geographic locations easily and accurately. This pilot project will serve as a feasibility study and model for converting the entire Chapter 91 license archive to an electronically available searchable database.

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