Flooding

The Departments Floodplain and Dam Safety Section is responsible for administering the state’s flood plain and dam construction permitting program.  For construction along most of Iowa’s waterways, you are required to obtain a floodplain development permit.  Permits are also generally  required for dam construction.  

We’ve broken down more information about the permitting process below.  If you are ready to begin the screening and application process please go to our online screening and application tool, PERMT.

Our regulatory thresholds are outlined in 567 Iowa Administrative Code (IAC) Chapter 71.  In general, the answer to this question revolves around the type of construction and location.    We’ve built a useful screening tool into our PERMT online system that allows you to select your project type and location to determine if you are required to submit an application, here are instructions: 

  • Your first steps will be to choose one or more project types; select your location using either a point, line or shape; and finally clicking “Get Results” to determine if you should submit a Joint Application.
  • If no Iowa DNR permit application submittal is required, PERMT allows you to receive documentation that your project does not require a DNR Flood Plain or Sovereign Lands Permit if you continue through the process of providing your information.  PERMT will take you through the steps to log in (or create account for first time users), fill out a joint application, and submit the Joint Application form to the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Rock Island District for 404 Water Quality Permit review.
  • If a state permit application should be submitted, PERMT will automatically take you through the steps to log in (or create an account for first time users), fill out a joint application, and submit that joint application to the Iowa DNR Flood Plains, Iowa DNR Sovereign Lands, and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Rock Island District for 404 Water Quality Permit review.
  • PERMT does not submit your Joint Application to county or city officials for local permitting, including local flood plain permitting. You are responsible for contacting local permitting officials and obtaining all required local permits prior to construction.
  • Iowa DNR and US Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District Responses. The Iowa DNR will send out one response for both the Iowa DNR Flood Plain and Sovereign Lands programs. The US Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District will communicate with you directly regarding the status and final response to any Joint Application submitted. The status or results of this review are not available on this system.
2 - How do I apply?
  • PERMT is our new online tool that walks you through the steps to apply (we call this process filling out a “Joint Application” as this single process will send the application to three programs:  DNR Flood Plain Permitting, DNR Sovereign Lands, and the US Army Corps of Engineers.)
  • Your first steps will be to choose one or more project types; select your location using either a point, line or shape; and finally clicking “Get Results” to determine if you should submit a Joint Application.
  • If a state permit application should be submitted, PERMT will automatically take you through the steps to log in, fill out a joint application, and submit that joint application to the Iowa DNR Flood Plains, Iowa DNR Sovereign Lands, and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Rock Island District for 404 Water Quality Permit review.
  • PERMT does not submit your Joint Application to county or city officials for local permitting, including local flood plain permitting. You are responsible for contacting local permitting officials and obtaining all required local permits prior to construction.
  • PERMT User Guide - You can also call 866-849‐0321 during normal business hours to receive assistance using the online system.  
3 - What do I need to submit?

Different project types require different information being submitted, more complex projects require a licensed engineer to provide plans, specifications and calculations.  Some project types do not require an engineer.  Rules governing our criteria are in 567 IAC Chapter 72. See below for useful checklists that we encourage you to fill out and submit for these project types: 

4 - How long will the review be?
  • Due to the large number of applications we receive, it can currently take up to 3 months to receive your response.  567 IAC Chapter 70.5(2) allows the department to expedite review of a particular application out of order if the completed application and supporting documents were submitted at the earliest practicable time and any of the following conditions exist:
    • Relatively little staff review time (generally less than four hours) is required and delay will cause the applicant hardship;
    • The applicant can demonstrate that a delay in the permit will result in substantial cost increase of a large project;
    • Prompt review of the permit would result in earlier completion of a project that conveys a significant public benefit;
    • The need for a permit is the result of an unforeseen emergency or catastrophic event; or
    • A permit is needed to complete a project that will abate or prevent an imminent threat to the public health and welfare.
  • To flag your application for consideration of OOO processing, you can select one of the questions at the end of the application and/or send an email with application tracking number and the specific need you have to asia.azam@dnr.iowa.gov
5 - Who can I contact with questions?
6 - What do you mean by “other permits may be required”?

Here is a list of other permits that are often also required for projects near floodplains:

  • DNR Sovereign Lands (included in the PERMT Joint Application)
  • USACE (Included in the PERMT Joint Application)
  • Local FP Permits: Any community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program requires application for a local floodplain permit for work completed in the mapped floodplain. 
  • NPDES/Stormwater
  • This list is not all inclusive and you are required to understand all the permits required for your construction project.