Regulatory Program: Construction Permits

The DWR Regulatory Program is responsible for regulating the construction and modification of dams, dikes, and other devices, as authorized by NDCC 61-03, 61-04, and 61-16.1.

Dams, dikes, and other devices in North Dakota are defined under NDAC 89-08-01-01:

“Dam” means any barrier, including any appurtenant works, constructed across a watercourse or an area that drains naturally to impound or attenuate the flow of water. All structures necessary to impound a single body of water are considered a single dam.

“Dike” means any artificial barrier, including any appurtenant works, constructed along a watercourse or an area that drains naturally to divert the flow of water to protect real or personal property.

“Other device” means a water control structure, other than a dam or dike, including diversions and holding ponds, lagoons, or dugouts.

According to NDCC 61-16.1-38, a construction permit is required from the DWR if a water control structure is constructed or modified and is capable of retaining, diverting, or obstructing more than:

  • 50 acre-feet for dikes, other devices, and low-hazard dams, or
  • 25 acre-feet for medium-hazard and high-hazard dams.

Program Rules & Guidance

North Dakota Administrative Code - Link to Article 89-08 "Dams, Dikes, and Other Devices"

North Dakota Century Code - Link to Chapter 61-16.1-38 "Permit to Construct or Modify Dam, Dike, or Other Device"

REG-2020-1 - Construction Permit Water Management Policy

Construction Permit Applications

Application To Construct (SFN 51695)

Emergency Dike Application Form (SFN 61411)

Notification of Completion Form (SFN 60895)

Notification to Breach/Remove a Dam, Dike, or Other Water Control Structure (SFN 61403)

Dam, Dike, Or Other Device Complaints

A complaint of unauthorized construction of a dam, dike, or other device may be filed with the Water Resource District (WRD) of jurisdiction.

A WRD will determine if a landowner or tenant constructed a dam, dike, or other device without first securing a construction permit as required under NDCC 61-16.1-38, or in conflict with the terms or conditions of a construction permit.

A WRD decision on a dam, dike, or other device complaint may be appealed to the DWR within 30 days of receipt of the WRD’s decision on the complaint.

If the WRD does not act on the complaint within a reasonable time (120 days), the original complaint may be filed with the DWR within 150 days of the original submittal date.

Complaint For Water-Related Issues (SFN 60840)

Appeal Of A Water Resource District Drainage Complaint Decision (SFN 61409)

Construction Permits Database

Provides access to available information for construction permits that have been issued in North Dakota.


North Dakota Water Resource Districts

Permits for dikes, diversions, and wetland restorations are handled by the Engineering & Permitting Section.

Construction permits for dams, holding ponds, and lagoons are handled by the Dam Safety Program.

For more information on Construction Permits, please contact the Regulatory Division at (701) 328-4956 or e-mail.