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FAQs - Docks in Fresh Water

SEPA Review

All construction over the water requires State Environmental Protection Act review (SA 027 + checklist). A SEPA checklist asks detailed questions about the proposal and its potential impacts on the environment.

JARPA - Joint Aquatic Resource Protection Application

In addition, virtually any type of dock repair, replacement or new installation requires either a Shoreline Exemption Permit or a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit.  To apply for either of these two permits, residents must submit a "JARPA" application (SA 030 + state form). On the JARPA form, applicants check a box indicating which type of permit they need from Thurston County. 

Minor Repairs

The term "minor repairs" refers to dock repairs that involve replacing less than 50 percent of the decking or other above-water structure. No permit is required for minor repairs. (Replacing pilings does not count as a minor repair.)

More than Minor Repairs

Dock repairs that are more than minor require a Shoreline Exemption Permit.

Installing a New Dock Where One Already Exists

If your new dock replaces an existing dock, state law allows it to qualify as a "more than minor" repair (a benefit, because repairs are subject to the less expensive Shoreline Exemption Permit). To qualify, the dock must be placed in the same location and conform to all requirements of the Shoreline Master Program to the greatest extent possible. The dock also must have been usable at the site within the past twelve months of the time the application is submitted.

Installing a new dock where one currently does not exist

If your new dock is placed where a dock does not already exist and it costs $10,000 or less, it qualifies for the Shoreline Exemption Permit. If the dock is more than $10,000, you must obtain a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit.

Dock Length

Generally, new docks cannot exceed the average lengths of neighboring docks located within 100 feet of the property line. If there are no other docks within 100 feet, the dock may extend 50 feet from the ordinary high water mark.

Remember: If your project involves installing pilings, you’ll also need to get a Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) permit from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. For more information, call (360) 902-2200.

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