In 1890, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Regulatory Program originated to protect navigation. New laws broadened the program to consider the protection and utilization of water resources, and to regulate alteration or discharge of dredged and/or fill material into U.S. waters, including wetlands. We also regulate dredged material transportation for the purpose of dumping it into ocean waters.
The regulatory authorities and responsibilities of the Corps’ Regulatory Program are based on the following laws:
• Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403) prohibits the obstruction or alteration of navigable waters of the United States without a permit from the Corps.
• Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344). Section 301 of this Act prohibits the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States without a permit from the Corps.
• Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972, as amended (33 U.S.C. 1413) authorizes the Corps to issue permits for the transportation of dredged material for the purpose of dumping it into ocean waters.
Other regulations/laws may also affect the processing of applications for Corps permits. Among these are 33 USC Section 408, National Environmental Policy Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act, the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the Deepwater Port Act, the Federal Power Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and the National Fishing Enhancement Act of 1984.
All of these activities require the completion and approval of a permit application. The application form used to apply for a Corps permit located outside of the coastal zone is Engineer Form 4345, Application of a Department of the Army Permit (see below). For within the coastal zone, the New Orleans District uses a slightly modified form for joint processing with the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR) (see link to LDNR Website below) ; however, the required information is basically the same. It is important that you provide the complete information in the requested format. This information will be used to determine the appropriate form of authorization, and to evaluate your proposal.
Some categories of activities have been previously authorized by nationwide or regional permits, and no further Corps approvals are required. Others may qualify for abbreviated permit processing, with authorizations in the form of letters of permission, in which a permit decision can usually be reached in less than 30 days. For other activities, a Public Notice may be required to notify Federal, state, and local agencies, adjacent property owners, the general public of the proposal to allow an opportunity for review and comment or to request a public hearing.
Most applications involving Public Notices are completed within four months and many are completed within 60 days.The district engineer will begin to process your application immediately upon receipt of all required information. You will be sent an acknowledgement of its receipt and the application number assigned to your file. You should refer to this number when inquiring about your application. Your proposal will be reviewed, balancing the need and expected benefits against the probable impacts of the work, taking into consideration all comments received and other relevant factors. This process is called the public interest review. The Corps goal is to reach a decision regarding permit issuance or denial within 60 days of receipt of a complete application. However, some complex activities, issues, or requirements of law may prevent the district engineer from meeting this goal. If your project involves the discharge of dredged or fill material, it will be necessary for the Corps to evaluate your proposed activity under the Section 404(b)(1) guidelines prepared by the Environmental Protection Agency. The guidelines restrict discharges into aquatic areas where less environmentally damaging, practicable alternatives exist.
Answers to technical questions and information specific to proposed actions can be obtained from the Evaluation Branch associated with the parish of the proposed project (see Evaluation Branch contact information on the left-hand side of the screen.