Coastal Jurisdiction Line - Fact Sheet
In 2012, the Connecticut General Assembly passed Public Act No. 12-101, which included a revision to the State's regulatory jurisdiction under Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) Section 22a-359. In essence, this revision changed the regulatory jurisdiction limit from the "high tide line" to the area up to and including the elevation of the "coastal jurisdiction line" (CJL) as determined for the State's major tidal waterbodies. The change went into effect on October 1, 2012.
The high tide line (HTL) had been the State's coastal jurisdictional limit for tidal, coastal, and navigable waters since 1987. The statute dictated that the high tide line be determined through analysis of field evidence including wrack lines, vegetation patterns, or other evidence; however, due to the fluctuating nature of the sea surface it was difficult in some circumstances to pinpoint the location of the true jurisdictional line. The amended statute dictates the use of a specifically determined elevation as the regulatory limit rather than relying on field evidence of the water surface elevation.
Working with DEEP to draft the amendement to the regulatory jurisdiction limit in CGS section 22a-359, the Connecticut Association of Land Surveyors (CALS), identified a process using the heights of specific predicted tides through which a regulatory elevation could be calculated to represent the highest reach of the tide. Working collaboratively, DEEP and CALS have calculated CJL elevations for each coastal municipality and the state's three major tidal rivers. The CJL Technical Report details the methodology that was implemented for these calculations.
These elevations are for use in all Structures, Dredging and Fill and Certificate of Permission applications submitted on or after October 1, 2012.
Coastal Jurisdiction Elevations
The following CJL elevations correspond to the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88). Note that some municipalities have waterfront on both Long Island Sound and either the Connecticut, Thames, or Housatonic Rivers. These municipalities are marked with an asterisk and have two CJL values. Be sure to use the correct CJL elevation, depending upon which waterbody the project is located, if your municipality is marked with an asterisk in the chart. The CJL elevations chart is also provided in a printable document format.
CJL Elevations in NAVD88
(includes land up to and including referenced elevations)
|Long Island Sound||Connecticut River||Housatonic River|
|Clinton||3.4'||Windsor Locks||15.0'||Thames River|
*Municipalities with multiple CJL elevations
Frequently Asked Questions
To which applications does the CJL apply?
The CJL must be used for each of the following applications submitted on or after October 1, 2012:
- Structures, Dredging and Fill pursuant to CGS Section 22a-361
- Certificate of Permission applications pursuant to CGS Section 22a-363b
- Emergency Authorizations regulated pursuant to CGS Section 22a-363d
- Temporary Authorizations regulated pursuant to CGS Section 22a-6k
- General Permits pursuant to CGS Section 22a-361(d)
Can I use the CJL for tidal wetland projects or delineation?
No. The change from HTL to CJL does not affect the manner in which tidal wetland boundaries are determined. As was the case prior to the change, tidal wetlands must be at an elevation not exceeding one-foot above local extreme high water (which is defined in the tidal wetland regulations as the elevation of the one-year frequency tidal flood as shown on the most recently adopted U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tidal flood profile) and field-determined through the identification of certain plants and the presence of tidal water. For more details, please refer to the tidal wetlands statutes and tidal wetlands regulations.
Can the project plans be in a datum other than NAVD88?
Yes, provided that the plans show the new CJL converted from NAVD88 to the appropriate datum (i.e., NGVD1929 or MLW) as referenced on the plans and the conversion calculations are also supplied. DEEP currently does not specify in which datum the elevations on the plans must be provided.
How do I know when to use the CJL or MHW for projects located upstream of a tide gate or weir?
You should use the CJL upstream of flood control structures when tidal water overtops or bypasses such tide gate or weir. That is, the CJL should be used in the circumstance where the flood control structure is designed such that the crest of the structure is at or below the elevation of the CJL, allowing the normal reach of the tide upstream. Also, the CJL should be used in the circumstance where the flood control structure is of a temporary nature, which is typically kept open to allow the normal reach of the tide upstream. You should use MHW in those circumstances where the purpose and function of an existing tide control structure reduces the normal reach of the tide upstream. Remember, though, that use of the CJL or MHW does not affect the state jurisdiction of tidal wetlands.
Are there specific examples of waterbodies that fall into these categories?
- Sybil Creek (Branford) upstream of tide gates;
- Pine Creek (Fairfield) upstream of tide gates;
- Ash Creek tributary (Fairfield) upstream of tide gate at Riverside Drive.
Use CJL: Sherwood Millpond (Westport).
What should I do if my project is located within two or more CJL areas?
It is possible that some projects - such as linear utility installation or transportation projects – may span across more than one CJL area. In these cases, be sure to note this in the section of the application that pertains to the CJL elevation. On the plans, you should show the location of the CJL as it falls on the particular plan sheet. For instance, a pipeline that crosses a river may have different CJLs for each shoreline. Be sure that the detail drawings for each shoreline show and label the appropriate CJL.
Does DEEP expect to review these elevations upward to remain consistent with Sea Level Rise?
Yes. When the new tidal epoch is computed by NOAA in about 2021, the rise in mean sea level will be applied to all the CJL elevations provided by the Land and Water Resources Division.
Do I have to use the CJL elevation number provided by DEEP?
No. While we strongly encourage all consultants and property owners to use these numbers because they have been calculated consistent with the statute, the law allows for independent calculations for specific sites. However, the methodology used must comport precisely with the statutory language, meaning the previous methodologies of identifying a high tide line based on direct observation of water surface elevation, wrack lines, or other field evidence or through use of annual predicted tide charts cannot be used. For instructions on how to calculate the CJL, please refer to the methods specified in the CJL Technical Report. Please note that any alternatively determined CJL that deviates from the values provided by the DEEP must include:
- A description of the methodology used;
- All calculations; and,
- A justification for the reason that the DEEP values were not used.
How is CJL derived where there is no tidal influence on the northern reach of the Connecticut River?
As the northernmost reach of the Connecticut River in Connecticut is no longer tidal but still subject to regulatory authority under CGS 22a-361, DEEP uses the elevation of Ordinary High Water for these towns. These have been provided in the chart, above.
For municipalities that have two CJL elevations, where is the distinction between Long Island Sound and the tidal rivers?
To determine the dividing line between the CJL elevations for Long Island Sound and the tidal rivers, please refer to the maps of the geographical boundary between Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River, Thames River, or Housatonic River.
Content Last Updated March 3, 2020