Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant
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The Corps of Engineers Issue New Nationwide Permits
L. Shaw, J.D.
March, the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) issued 5 new Nationwide Permits
(NWPs) and modified 6 existing NWPs to replace Nationwide Permit 26
(NWP 26). Nine of the NWP general conditions were modified and two new
conditions were added. The new and modified permits set out specific
categories of activities, such as agricultural activities, stormwater
management facilities, residential and commercial development (see list
below), and the requirements for each, with regard to obtaining a permit.
These new and modified permits and conditions became effective on June
7, 2000. According to the Corps, the new and modified permits will substantially
increase protection of critical water resources by authorizing many
of the same activities previously permitted under NWP 26, but on an
activity-specific basis which will result in minimal adverse effects
on the aquatic environment.
Pursuant to authority granted by section 404 of the Clean Water Act, the Corps issues permits for the discharge of dredged or fill material into any navigable waters of the United States. There are two broad types of permits: individual permits and general permits. Under the heading of general permits, there are regional general permits, and nationwide permits which pertain to groups of similar activities such as building boat docks and shore protection.
Nationwide permit requirements are triggered by the addition of any fill material to navigable waters or adjacent wetlands that impacts or results in a loss to an established threshold of acreage. The Corps establishes guidelines by setting maximum acreage limits that may be impacted by the discharge of dredged or fill materials. NWP 26 is the general permit most often used to authorize discharge of dredged or fill material into headwaters, isolated waters and wetlands.
In 1984, the Corps established an impact limit for NWP 26 of ten acres and a requirement that the Corps be notified for any impact greater than one acre. In 1996, the impact limit was reduced to three acres and one-third acre for the notification requirement. The new and modified permits further reduce the impact limit to one-half acre and most require notification of activities impacting more than one-tenth of an acre. While the new limits are substantially more restrictive than previous limits, the Corps reports that these permit requirements will not result in denial of more permit applications, but will provide for increased protection of the aquatic environment based on a more detailed, activity-specific review of each permit.
addition to these changes, the new NWPs impose linear foot limits on
impacts to certain streams, allow for limited use of the NWPs in 100-year
flood plains and provide for compensatory mitigation.
Index of Nationwide Permits
7. Outfall Structures and Maintenance
12. Utility Line Activities
14. Linear Transportation Crossings
27. Stream and Wetland Restoration Activities
39. Residential, Commercial, and Institutional Developments
40. Agricultural Activities
41. Reshaping Existing Drainage Ditches
42. Recreational Facilities
43. Stormwater Management Facilities
March 9, 2000, Federal Register notice (65 FR 12818) is available on
the following Corps of Engineers' website: www.usace.army.mil/inet/functions/cw/cecwo/reg/
or through the U.S. Government Printing Office at www.access.gpo.gov/su-docs/aces/aces140.html
Phone (662) 915-7775 • Fax (662) 915-5267 • 256 Kinard Hall, Wing E, University, MS 38677-1848