Permits for Projects on the Water

Hydraulic Project Approval | HPA: A Lawyer’s Opinion on Administrative and Defense Issue.

Whenever an individual plans construction or activities in or near Washington state water, an environmental permit is required, which is also known as a hydraulic project approval (HPA.)  Common projects requiring a HPA in both fresh and salt water include building bulkheads, boat ramps & launches, culverts, docks, piers, and even prospecting for minerals.

Failure to obtain a proper Hydraulic Project Approval, or “HPA” for an aquatic project can result in criminal charges, citations and tickets that will include potential jail, fines, and restitution for damage done.  Clients engage our firm in an administrative capacity to help them file the appropriate paperwork or hire us in a criminal defense capacity to fight wrongful charges or run damage control.  Like it or not, we live in a highly regulated state so it wise to use effective, knowledgeable and experienced counsel to protect your rights.  Obtaining counsel earlier in the process is advisable to avoid problems later down the road.

Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA)

The Washington State Fish & Wildlife department is responsible for administering Hydraulic Project Approvals under the Hydraulic Code. There are several different types of HPAs.  The most common is the standard Hydraulic Project Approval, which takes 45 days and will require documentation showing the project conforms to the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).  This type of HPA can be applied for online.  Other HPAs, such as the Emergency, Imminent danger, and Expedited HPAs do not need SEPA proof but will need coordination with a habitat biologist to apply.

Two activities, which have the easiest HPAs to obtain, are basic forms of prospecting (like panning for gold!) and aquatic plant removal/control.  For both activities, Fish & Wildlife has published pamphlets, which essentially are the HPA, as long as they are followed.  The Aquatic Plants and Fish pamphlet will help provide information on identifying noxious weeds and how they can be properly removed.  If an individual wants to remove plants in a manner different than prescribed in the pamphlet, then a written Hydraulic Project Approval will be necessary.  Prospecting uses the Gold and Fish pamphlet to provide permission and instructions on how to prospect in an environmentally safe manner.

Remember, if you are being contacted by law enforcement or a State agent, there is no such thing as a friendly discussion.  Their role is to investigate potential crimes and collect evidence.  Anything said can be later used against you in a criminal trial.  Thus, the less said to such personnel, the better. Follow our advice for any criminal investigation and contact our legal team of defense lawyers to assure your rights and freedom are protected.

Robert Rhodes

With a successful background in law, courtrooms, wrestling, rugby and jujitsu, Robert Rhodes’s nature is well-suited for argument and litigation. Mr. Rhodes knows how to talk clearly and directly to his clients, adversaries and to the Court. His common sense, straight talk and experience put his clients immediately at ease. Mr. Rhodes does not do anything half way and you will sense this when you meet him. Read more >>