The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, through the Regulatory Program, administers and enforces Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (RHA), Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research, & Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA). Under RHA Section 10, a permit is required for work or structures in, over, or under navigable waters of the United States. Under CWA Section 404, a permit is required for the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States.
Many bodies of water, including wetlands and streams, are considered waters of the United States and are subject to the Corps' regulatory authority. Based on the project’s impacts, the Corps of Engineers will determine what type of permit is required.
A general permit is issued for structures, work or discharges that will result in only minimal adverse effects. General Permits are issued on a nationwide, regional, or state basis for a particular categories of activities. There are three types of General Permits – Nationwide Permits, Regional General Permits, and Programmatic General Permits. Each type of General Permit is designed to streamline the Department of the Army authorization process for projects that have already been determined to have minimal adverse effects. Every five years, General Permits are re-assessed and may be re-authorized or modified by the Corps of Engineers. A list of current general permits authorized in the Mobile District can be found here:
Projects that do not meet the terms and conditions of a Nationwide Permit or Regional General Permit are evaluated as an Individual Permit. Individual Permit decisions are made on a case-by-case basis after an individual project evaluation. There are two types of Individual Permits; Standard Permits and Letters of Permission. An Individual Permit is issued when projects have more than minimal individual or cumulative impacts, are evaluated using additional environmental criteria, and involve a more comprehensive public interest review procedure.
No Permit Required
A Department of the Army Permit may not be required for certain activities occurring in waters of the United States. The Corps of Engineers will make a determination whether a permit is required for a specific project based on jurisdiction and/or the type of activity. If you are going to be working in waters of the U.S., including wetlands and streams, you should always contact your local Regulatory Office for assistance in determining whether or not a permit is required.