"Normal Maintenance or Repair" exemption
This exemption authorizes maintenance or repair of existing lawful
structures and developments when they are subject to damage by accident,
fire or the elements.
“Normal maintenance” includes those usual acts to prevent a
decline, lapse or cessation from a lawfully established condition.
“Normal repair” means to restore a development or structure to a
state comparable to its original size, shape, configuration and external
appearance. This must be done within a reasonable period of time after the
decay or partial destruction. Replacement of the development or structure
(comparable to the original) may be exempted where that is the common
method of repair. Neither repair nor replacement should be exempted where
such action would cause substantial adverse effects to shoreline resources
or the environment.
Tips for local administrators
Beware of projects called "maintenance" that actually constitute an
expansion in use. Examples include:
- Local road projects that are actually expansions (such as
extra lanes) do not constitute normal maintenance.. Note that "capital
improvements" usually need permits.
- Flood control projects should not be considered normal repair
and maintenance if they raise the top or enlarge the footprint of a dike
beyond where it was originally constructed. Installation or repair of
tide gates, flap gates, and any flood control structures should be
carefully scrutinized to assure that they simply restore a pre-existing
- Maintenance of agricultural drainage ditches may be exempt
but dumping the material dug out of the ditches in a shoreline area is
filling and may require a permit.
- Dredging to restore pre-existing contours within a designated
and authorized navigation channel or basin is considered normal
maintenance. If operations expand the channel or basin, a permit is
required even if the marina or similar project has been operating for
years. Consider how the dredged material is to be disposed of - picking
up mud may be maintenance but putting it down may be filling requiring a
permit. Dredging is only maintenance where there is a designated and
authorized facility such as a federal navigation channel or a berth
authorized by permit. The fact that a formerly navigable area has
changed such that it is not now navigable is not sufficient.
- Replacing piling and decking on docks is normal maintenance
and repair but adding deck area, floats, sheds or other expansion is
For more information
Ecology's shoreline permit reviewer serving your
town, city, or county.