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Frequently Asked Questions

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There are generally two types of activities which require a permit from the Corps of Engineers. The first includes activities within navigable waters. Activities such as dredging, construction of docks and bulkheads and placing navigation aides require review under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 to ensure that they will not cause an obstruction to navigation. Typical activities requiring Section 10 permits are: construction of piers, wharves, bulkheads, dolphins, marinas, ramps, floats intake structures, and cable or pipeline crossings or dredging and excavation.

 

The second major part of the Corps permitting program, Section 404 of the Clean Water Act of 1972 regulates activities in waters of the US. A major aspect of the Regulatory program under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act is determining which areas qualify for protection as wetlands. In reaching these decisions, the Corps uses its 1987 Wetland Delineation Manual. Section 404 of the Clean Water Act requires approval prior to discharging dredged or fill material into the waters of the United States. Typical activities requiring Section 404 permits are: Depositing of fill or dredged material in waters of the U.S. or adjacent wetlands, site development fill for residential, commercial, or recreational developments, construction of revetments, groins, breakwaters, levees, dams, dikes, and weirs, or placement of riprap and road fills.

Any disturbance to the soil or substrate (bottom material) of a wetland or waterbody, including a stream bed, is an impact and may adversely affect the hydrology of an area. Discharges of fill material generally include, without limitation: placement of fill material that is necessary for the construction of any structure, or impoundment requiring rock, sand, dirt, or other material for its construction; site-development fills for recreational, industrial, commercial, residential, and other uses; causeways or road fills; dams and dikes; artificial islands; property protection or reclamation devices such as riprap, groins, seawalls, breakwaters, and revetments; beach nourishment; levees; fill for intake and outfall pipes and sub-aqueous utility lines; fill associated with the creation of ponds; and any other work involving the discharge of fill or dredged material. A Corps permit is required whether the work is permanent or temporary. Examples of temporary discharges include dewatering of dredged material prior to final disposal, and temporary fills for access roadways, cofferdams, storage and work areas.
Wetlands are areas that are periodically or permanently inundated by surface or ground water and support vegetation adapted for life in saturated soil. Wetlands include swamps, marshes, bogs and similar areas. As a significant natural resource, wetlands serve important functions relating to fish and wildlife. Such functions include food chain production, habitat, nesting spawning, rearing and resting sites for aquatic and land species. They also provide protection of other areas from wave action and erosion; storage areas for storm and flood waters; natural recharge areas where ground and surface water are interconnected; and natural water filtration and purification functions.
The best practice is to avoid all impacts to streams and wetlands.  When this is unavoidable, contact your Corps office to determine how to minimize the area impacted and whether a permit is needed.  Stringent limits are placed on activities that may cause anything other than minimal impacts to the waterbody or aquatic environment.  There are additional prohibitions and limitations on special aquatic resources.  The national policy regarding wetlands is to prevent any further net loss.  To meet this goal, if your activity is permitted, you may be required to compensate for the loss through mitigation as a condition for proceeding with the planned activity.  If the activity is occurring in the ocean or in tidal waters, it may be subject to additional limitations.   Depending on what impacts may result from the project, and where the stream or wetland is located, a permit application will determine the exact limitations to the area that can be impacted.
Any person, firm, or agency (including Federal, state, and local government agencies) planning to work in navigable waters of the United States, or discharge (dump, place, deposit) dredged or fill material in waters of the United States, including wetlands, must first obtain a permit from the Corps of Engineers. Permits, licenses, variances, or similar authorization may also be required by other Federal, state and local statutes.
Since three to four months is normally required to process a routine application involving a public notice, you should apply as early as possible to be sure you have all required approvals before your planned beginning date. For a large or complex activity that may take longer, it is often helpful to have a pre-application meeting during the early planning phase of your project. You may receive helpful information at this point, which could prevent delays later. When in doubt as to whether a permit may be required or what you need to do, don't hesitate to call the Vicksburg District Regulatory Office.

Carefully read the required materials for the different permits issued by the Vicksburg District. If you have questions concerning the type of permit needed, the materials needed for a complete permit application, or length of time needed to obtain a permit, a pre-application meeting is recommended. You can submit your application or pre-construction notification via postal service, email, or fax to:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg District

ATTN: Regulatory (CEMVK-OD-F)
4155 Clay Street
Vicksburg, MS 39183
Ph: 601-631-7660
Fax: 601-631-5459
Email: regulatory@usace.army.mil 

 

Most permits issued by the Corps such as Letters of Permission, Nationwide, and General Permits do not have a permit fee. Individual Permits have fees of $10 for individuals and $100 for businesses, once the permit has been issued and accepted by the permittee. There are no fees charged to other governmental bodies.
The length of time it takes to obtain a permit depends on several factors. Complete applications packets, including a signed application, alternative site analysis, mitigation plan, and a wetland delineation, can greatly speed up the standard permit evaluation. If no adverse comments are received in response to a public notice and the application is complete (including an approved jurisdictional determination), the standard permit evaluation can take up to 120 days. The Regional-General and Nationwide  Permit evaluation can take up to 45 days.
It is possible you may not have to obtain an individual permit, depending on the type or location of work. The Corps has many general permits, which authorize minor activities without the need for individual processing. Check with your Corps district regulatory office for information on general permits. When a general permit does not apply, you may still be required to obtain an individual permit.
Nationwide, less than three percent of all requests for permits are denied. Those few applicants who have been denied permits usually have refused to change the design, timing, or location of the proposed activity. When a permit is denied, an applicant may redesign the project and submit a new application. To avoid unnecessary delays pre-application conferences, particularly for applications for major activities, are recommended. The Corps will endeavor to give you helpful information, including factors, which will be considered during the public interest review, and alternatives to consider that may prove to be useful in designing a project.
If your activity is located in an area of tidal waters, the best way to avoid the need for a permit is to select a site that is above the high tide line and avoids wetlands or other water-bodies. In the vicinity of fresh water, stay above ordinary high water and avoid wetlands adjacent to the stream or lake. Also, it is possible that your activity is exempt and does not need a Corps Permit. Another possibility for minor activities is that a Nationwide or a Regional General Permit may have authorized them. So, before you build, dredge or fill, contact the Corps district regulatory office in your area for specific information about location, exemptions, and regional and nationwide general permits.
Performing unauthorized work in waters of the United States or failure to comply with the terms of a valid permit can have serious consequences. You would be in violation of federal law and could face stiff penalties, including fines and/or requirements to restore the area.

Enforcement is an important part of the Corps regulatory program. Corps surveillance and monitoring activities are often aided by various agencies, groups, and individuals, who report suspected violations. When in doubt as to whether a planned activity needs a permit, contact the nearest district regulatory office. It could save a lot of unnecessary trouble later.