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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gold Dredging and Sluicing Permits - Oregon

Here is a copy of an email that I received from the Department of Water Quality for the State of Oregon.  I had requested a clarification of permit rules for dredging from the Department of Environmental Quality in Oregon.  You will note that this permit is also required for sluicing and high banking.  I operated with my sluice last year without this permit since I had no knowledge that it was required.  I did have the free permit from the Department of State Lands.  The DEQ permit has a $25.00 application fee to be sent with the application.  The issued permit is free.

The fines for not having this permit are extreme with compliance being monitored by the Oregon State Police.   I have read various sources who quote fines up to $32500 for a first offense and pu to $200,000 criminal negligence.  The facts about fines are confused at best.  I do know that for the second offense there can be a prison term and the third offense becomes a class B felony with up to ten years in prison.

It would seem that the $25.00 application fee for the permit is a small price to pay for insurance against any amount of fine.  Pay your money and go find some gold.
"You need a DEQ water quality permit for all placer operations using water except panning.

For dredges up to 4-inch nozzle/16 horsepower machine in essential salmon habitat or 6-inch nozzle/30 hp outside ESH, DEQ requires registration under the general NPDES 700PM permit coverage for small suction dredging operations. Your 2-inch dredge can be approved for all state waters with 700PM coverage. The 700PM application and related reference documents including essential salmon habitat maps, state scenic waterway map, and timing of in-water work schedule links are provided on the DEQ web page of water quality permits for metal mining activities (see You can sluice under the 700PM coverage without registering (no application and no fee). Persons only hand sluicing need to get or print a copy of the 700PM and follow the permit conditions for sluicing (ignore exclusive suction dredging conditions). Only suction dredgers must register and pay the fee.

If you are suction dredging in waters designated essential salmon habitat, you also need to get the general authorization from the Oregon Department of State Lands. DSL requires the general authorization for panning, sluicing, high banking, and suction dredging in/near state essential salmon habitat waters. There is a link to the DSL web page embedded in the 700PM information. Many state waters are essential salmon habitat, so I would get the DSL general authorization because it’s free and simple to fill out on line.

Most in-water work seasons for dredging don’t begin until June 15th or July 1st and end August 31st or September 15th, so you have time to get up to speed on permitting.

Please call if any questions.

Best regards,
James E. Billings
Compliance Specialist
WQD, Surface Water Management
503-229-5073 phone
503-229-6037 fax"


  1. why all the bs, I Built A 3" Dredg,I Want To Go Dredg,Im Not A Lawyer To Read All That Crap.. OK So Whats The Easy Way.??? thanks.

    1. The easy way is to get the free permit and ignore the one for dredging. That is exactly what I do since they want a specific location where you will dredge by range and township. I go to varied locations and cannot get a permit for all of them. I prospect using my dredge.