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Indiana Department of Environmental Management

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Table of Contents: Water Quality

Dredging

Persons intending to undertake any dredging and filling activities within Indiana or in Indiana’s waters should first consult with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management's (IDEM) Office of Water Quality and Office of Land Quality, as well as county departments of health. These various agencies have differing, but overlapping, concerns regarding the hydrological, environmental, or biological impacts of any dredge or fill activity. Dredging or fill activities could require one or more permits or approvals issued by these various federal, state or local agencies.

Such persons also are advised to request a multi-agency meeting with these regulatory authorities prior to engaging in any pre-dredging sediment testing activities.

Dredging is generally done for one of four (4) reasons:

  1. Mining: Dredging frequently is the technique used to recover sand and gravel from private mining pits, as well as, from the bottom of various waters of the state.
  2. Construction: The discharge of fill material into waters of the state for purposes of commercial, industrial, or residential development. Other activities such as dredging to clear away sediments and expose underlying bedrock to facilitate the construction of bridges, dams, docks, marinas, sea walls, or other structures, to install or repair utility lines that cross a river, or to obtain material for beach nourishment may also require permits.
  3. Maintenance: Dredging to maintain a navigation channel, to increase reservoir capacity for flood control or water supply, to clear material from beneath docks or boat slips, or to clear a water supply intake.
  4. Environmental remediation of contaminated sediments.

Following is additional information about the agencies involved in the oversight of these projects, including contact information.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)

The U.S Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) regulates the placement of dredged or fill materials into the Waters of the United States under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The USACE also regulates the placement of certain structures or work in or affecting navigable waters of the United States under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 . As a result, no person may deposit dredge or fill materials into the wetlands or waters of the U.S. without a permit from the USACE. USACE regulations apply to both permanent and temporary work. However, the level of permitting required by the USACE can vary. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers bases its permit decision on a process called Public Interest Review, which is a public interest balancing process where the benefits of the project are balanced against the detriments. Benefits and detriments are weighed by considering effects on conservation, economics, aesthetics, wetlands, cultural values, navigation, fish and wildlife values, water supply, water quality, energy needs, safety, and any other factors judged important to the needs and welfare of the people.

In Indiana, the USACE authorizes projects in several different ways with several different types of permits. These permits are broadly categorized as either General Permits or Standard Permits. The most common Standard Permit issued by the USACE in Indiana is the USACE Individual Permit, which is used for projects proposing extensive impacts or impacts to rare or special aquatic types. The USACE evaluation of an Individual Permit is a thorough process, and public hearings or environmental impact statements may be required. Time frames for review will vary depending on the complexity of the project, but generally take a minimum of three to six months to review.

Other projects may qualify for a general permit. In Indiana, the USACE issues three types of general permits.

Nationwide General Permits are used to authorize activities that are "similar in nature, cause only minimal adverse environmental effects when performed separately, and cause only minimal cumulative adverse effects on the aquatic environment." All Nationwide Permits have special conditions that must be met in order for a project to qualify for nationwide permit status. Some nationwide permits also require that an applicant submit a pre-construction notification (PCN) to the USACE before work begins.

The USACE has also established the Indiana Regional General Permit No. 1 (USACE RGP) to replace several nationwide permits that have been suspended in Indiana. In general, the USACE Indiana Regional General Permit No. 1 can be used by the USACE to authorize most projects that affect less than one acre of waters of the United States. However, the following maximum limitations are placed on the Indiana Regional General Permit No. 1 by the USACE:

  • Discharges of dredged or fill material are limited to one (1) acre or less of "Waters of the United States," including wetlands;
  • Dredging in "navigable waters" is limited to 10,000 cubic yards;
  • Structures and fills for docking and mooring are limited to similar permitted structures and fills in the vicinity; and,
  • Discharges of dredged or fill material into Lake Michigan are limited to one tenth (0.10) acre, except for bank stabilization;

In 2007, the USACE issued a Programmatic General Permit (PGP) for specific construction activities on public freshwater lakes. The PGP was established to reduce duplication among regulatory agencies for review of projects with minimal impacts. You may review the specifics of the PGP on the USACE Detroit District USACE PGP Web site, or contact IDNR, IDEM, or the USACE offices directly.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) , Division of Water regulates various construction activities within, over, and/or under the state's waterways. As a result, the Division of Water implements and enforces numerous statutes and rules which address dredging and fill placement, including those in the table below:

DNR Statutes Addressing Dredging and Fill Placement
Statute Statute Title Related Administrative Code and Code Title
IC 14-26-2 Lakes Preservation Act 312 IAC 11 [PDF] - Public Freshwater Lakes
IC 14-26-5 Lowering of Ten Acre Lakes Act No related administrative code.
IC 14-28-1 Flood Control Act 310 IAC 6-1 [PDF] - Flood Hazard Areas
IC 14-29-1 Navigable Waterways Act 312 IAC 6 [PDF] - Navigable Waterways
IC 14-29-3 Sand and Gravel Permits Act 312 IAC 6 [PDF] - Navigable Waterways (same as above)
IC 14-29-4 Construction of Channels Act No related administrative code.

Note: The above links to DNR statutes take you off of the IDEM Web site.

Like the USACE's permitting programs, which regulate dredging and fill operations, the IDNR's statutes and rules regarding dredge and fill operations also protect and maintain the physical structure and mechanics of those water bodies, such as surface elevation, depth, or volume of flow. However, various statutes and related rules require that IDNR staff also consider other "natural resources" criteria when making a permitting decision including environmental impacts. This includes the impacts on human health, fish, wildlife, botanical resources, natural scenic beauty, or the impact upon recreational purposes like fishing, boating, or swimming.

IDEM Office of Water Quality (IDEM - OWQ)

IDEM's Office of Water Quality is responsible for protecting the water quality of the waters of the state. All waters of the United States are considered to be waters of the state. IDEM regulates activities in lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, and other waters of the state to ensure that those activities maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of these waters. The Office of Water Quality’s primary interest in dredging and fill projects relates to the impact dredged or fill materials could have on the overall water quality of Indiana waters. When a dredging project is planned in Indiana that will impact a wetland, stream, river, lake, or other water of the U.S., the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) must issue a Section 401 Water Quality Certification (401 WQC). A Section 401 WQC is a required component of a federal permit and must be issued before a federal permit or license can be granted. The bulk of federal permits requiring Section 401 Water Quality Certification from IDEM are Section 404 Dredge and Fill Permits, which are issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

If the USACE determines that a proposed project will require a USACE permit, then the applicant must also apply for, and obtain, a Section 401 Water Quality Certification from IDEM. IDEM will review the proposed activities to determine if they will comply with Indiana law, including state water quality standards.

IDEM Office of Land Quality (OLQ)

IDEM’s Office of Land Quality (OLQ) is responsible for the disposal of solid and hazardous waste, including dredge material. The Office of Land Quality provides assistance developing sediment sampling plans to ensure valid sediment testing results for those proposing dredging projects. Such plans require pre-approval from the Office of Land Quality if the sediments to be dredged are:

  1. part of a RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) remediation; or,
  2. being addressed under an agreed order with IDEM as part of a remediation effort.

For both of the aforementioned situations, all persons intending to place dredge or fill into the waters of the state or waters of the U.S. are required to have a sediment sampling plan in place and submit it to the IDEM Office of Land Quality for review prior to sampling. Pre-approval of the sediment sampling plan is required by IDEM’s OLQ prior to sampling.

In addition, any sediment which is determined to be a solid or hazardous waste may NOT be placed back into the waters of the state or the waters of the U.S. Such sediments are instead subject to a waste determination to establish whether they should be disposed of as hazardous wastes, as industrial wastes, or as a solid waste. Such contaminated sediments must be disposed of in a permitted and IDEM-approved landfill.

Sediments found to be not contaminated are suitable for any unrestricted use. Sediments with slight contamination may be used for beneficial reuse (including, but not limited to, use as aggregate in concrete or asphalt, as upland fill material, as landfill daily-cover, or some other approved reuse). Sediments with higher levels of contamination must be sent to a permitted solid waste disposal facility.

Dredged material may be placed in an upland containment facility for dewatering prior to disposal. Return runoff water from upland placement may be subject to IDEM NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems) permitting requirements as well as IDEM 401 Water Quality Certification requirements.

If air stripping is required to treat return water by removing volatile contaminants prior to discharge, a permit from IDEM’s Office of Air Quality also may be required. For more information on permits associated with air stripping treatment, contact the IDEM Office of Air Quality by phone at (317) 233-0178, or visit the Air Permit Assistance Web site.

The county health department or local municipal health department also should be contacted by any persons who are proposing to use dredged material for beach nourishment. This is especially true when the fill material is sediment recovered from near a sewage treatment plant outfall. Although any, or all, of the agencies - IDEM, IDNR, and the USACE - with primary jurisdiction over dredging projects may require, as part of the sediment testing plan, that such dredge material be tested for the presence of coliform bacteria and other human pathogens, local health department officials still should be kept apprised of test results

Regarding Sand and Gravel Quarries

Although dredging equipment and techniques may be used in the recovery of sand and gravel from or under the bed of Indiana streams and lakes, such activity is considered mining rather than dredging, and is permitted by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) under IC 14-29-3, the Sand and Gravel Permits Act and IC 14-28-1, the Flood Control Act .

Any discharge from such a facility also would require a NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit from the IDEM Office of Water Quality. The NPDES general Rule 12 permit (327 IAC 15-12) [PDF]) commonly is obtained for such operations.

Persons initiating entirely new mining operations in a previously unmined area are strongly encouraged to first contact the district office of the Corps for a determination regarding whether wetlands or streams are present on the project site, and to determine whether or not any wetlands, streams, lakes, wetlands, or other Waters will be impacted. If a USACE permit is required, a Section 401 Water Quality Certification from IDEM will also be required. In addition, all sand and gravel operators should remain mindful that, if the material recovered by a sand and gravel operation is contaminated, the operator of the permitted facility is responsible for any remediation associated with that contaminated materials. IDEM's Section 401 Water Quality Certification Program has suggested project planning tips that will assist you when planning a large project.

Who May Not Need a Permit, Certification, or Other Approval for Dredge or Fill Activities?

Private Ponds

Depending on varying conditions and requirements, dredging “private ponds” may or may not require any prior approval from the USACE, IDNR, the IDEM Office of Water Quality or the IDEM Office of Land Quality. However, because approval requirements can vary substantially with individual circumstances, such determinations are made on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, it is always advisable to contact each of the regulating agencies prior to any dredging, even in a “private pond.” It is important to remember that in some cases, an activity and/or water body may not be regulated by one agency, but will be regulated by another.

Similarly, the dredging of sedimentation basins constructed specifically as pollution control devices may, or may not, require regulatory approval and so each of the regulatory agencies should be consulted. In particular, the IDEM Office of Land Quality should be contacted regarding any dredged materials which could be contaminated. Additionally, any water discharges from such ponds or facilities to the waters of the state continue to be subject to NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permitting requirements.

Some of the things a person must do to obtain a dredging and fill permit:

Since any dredge or fill activity could require the approval of multiple permitting authorities, persons proposing such activities should be sure to contact each agency in advance to determine if a permit or other approval is required for the proposed activity.

Agencies which should be contacted include:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

There are two districts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers located in Indiana. The Detroit District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers covers the northern portions of the state. The Louisville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers covers the majority of the state except for several northern counties.

View Corps of Engineers District Map

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Detroit District Office – Regulatory Program
P.O. Box 1027
Detroit, MI 48231
(313) 226-2218

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
South Bend Field Office
2422 Viridian Dr.
South Bend, IN 46628
(574) 232-1952

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Louisville District Office – Regulatory Program
P.O. Box 59
Louisville, KY 40201
(502) 315-6733

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Indianapolis Field Office
9799 Billings Rd.
Indianapolis, IN 46216
(317) 532-4198

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District

Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton, Jasper, St. Joseph, Elkhart, La Grange, Steuben, and DeKalb Counties are wholly covered by the Detroit District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. There is also a South Bend Field Office which is part of the Detroit District.

The boundary between the Detroit and Louisville District offices falls along watershed boundaries and divides up the following counties: Benton, White, Pulaski, Starke, Marshall, Kosciusko, Noble, Allen, Wells, Adams, and Jay counties. Residents of these counties should contact one of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers offices to determine which district will regulate their project.

Residents south of Benton, White, Marshall, Kosciusko, Noble, Wells, and Jay Counties are wholly covered by the Louisville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources

IDNR - Division of Water
402 W. Washington St.
Room W264
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Phone: (317) 232-4160

IDNR - Division of Water Web site (IDNR Web site addresses will change February 1st, 2009)

IDNR - Division of Nature Preserves
402 W. Washington St.
Room W267
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Phone: (317) 232-4052

IDNR – Division of Nature Preserves Web site (IDNR Web site address will change February 1st, 2009)

IDNR - Division of Fish and Wildlife
402 W. Washington St.
Room W273
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2748

Phone: (317) 232-4080

IDNR - Division of Fish and Wildlife Web site (IDNR Web site address will change February 1st, 2009)

Indiana Department of Environmental Management

Planning a project which will impact wetlands, streams, rivers, lakes, or other regulated water resources and anticipating how IDEM will respond to your application can be difficult. In an effort to avoid delays, confusion, and ensure that Indiana's environment is protected, IDEM offers early coordination for all applicants who need to apply for a Section 401 Water Quality Certification.

Early coordination is an informal, completely voluntary (though recommended) process where you meet with IDEM project managers to discuss a project that is in its early planning stages. If your project is large, complex, or has the potential to impact sensitive areas, IDEM recommends that you contact program staff to discuss your project. You may also wish to contact IDEM staff if you have never applied for permits before or to simply gather information on needed permits. IDEM project managers each cover a specific territory, so please contact the specific IDEM project manager for the county in which you will be working. You can also view the IDEM 401 Water Quality Certification project manager map to find your point of contact for the county of interest.

Mailing address:

Indiana Department of Environmental Management
Section 401 WQC Program
100 N. Senate Avenue
MC 65-42 WQS IGCN 1255
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Phone: (317) 233-8488
Fax: (317) 234-4145

Local County Health Departments

local county health departments or municipal health departments may need to be notified (especially if dredged material is being proposed for use as beach nourishment).

Sediment Testing, and Sample Collection Methods

Any uncontaminated sediments generated from construction or maintenance dredging can be disposed of back into the waters of the state once permits have been obtained. The proper permit(s) -- which will dictate where, and how, the material is to be re-deposited into the water-- must be obtained before replacement of dredged materials into the waters of the state. Although sediment testing plans for construction or maintenance dredging are not required to be pre-approved, re-testing is required by IDEM in some instances. As a result, all persons intending to dredge are encouraged to request a multi-agency pre-sampling meeting, or to have their sampling plans reviewed by each agency before hand.

Persons proposing to place dredge or fill materials into the Great Lakes or any connecting channels or tributaries will want to refer to the Great Lakes Dredged Material Testing & Evaluation Manual , in consultation with the USACE, and with Indiana IDNR and IDEM. The manual was developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the USACE. Those agencies also collaborated to create the Inland Testing Manual for "Evaluation of Dredged Material Proposed for Discharge in Waters of the U.S.," which provides guidance for sediment dredge or fill testing in Indiana waters outside the Great Lakes drainage basin.

Although IDEM has not evaluated these two USACE testing manuals, the IDEM Office of Land Quality has prepared Guidance to the Performance and Presentation of Analytical Chemistry Data [PDF]. It should be used in conjunction with the aforementioned USACE testing manuals to help ensure that testing efforts will generate valid analytical data that will meet the data quality objectives required for properly evaluating a dredge and fill approval request.

The sampling plan should address sampling frequency, identify what is to be sampled for, and establish a protocol for how samples are to be collected. Although some level of sediment testing will always be appropriate, the site history can provide useful information for establishing a testing plan. Having answers to the following questions will assist you in establishing a sampling protocol:

  • Where is the site?
  • When it was last dredged?
  • What types of constituents or contaminants were found at that time?
  • What are some nearby industrial activities? What types of out falls, or discharge points, are present, and what types of potential contaminates are contained within those discharges?
  • What types of cargo have been shipped in the vicinity?

All these bits of site history can help to determine the type of testing that may be required.

Any sediments determined to be contaminated, meaning sediments that contain metals or certain organic compounds above acceptable limits, must be treated as solid waste. Contaminated sediments may not be discharged back into waters of the state. (Note: Organic chemicals require a more complex evaluation because some organic compounds are naturally occurring.) Contaminated sediments must be subjected to a waste determination to identify whether they are hazardous waste or industrial waste. Industrial waste may either be disposed of as solid waste or designated by the IDEM Office of Land Quality as suitable for beneficial reuse.

Persons Seeking a Permit to Dredge Contaminated Sediments

Persons seeking to dredge sediments as part of a remedial action are encouraged to contact:

IDEM Watershed Specialist
Phone: (317) 233-8905
E-mail: info at idem.IN.gov

Such persons also should anticipate they will be required to perform and to submit the results of sediment testing prior to obtaining a permit. Dredging for remediation also requires a more extensive public process than dredging for maintenance.

As mentioned previously, the USACE, IDEM, and IDNR have overlapping jurisdictions and concerns over Indiana’s waters. However, each agency also has slightly differing responsibilities; protecting the physical nature of the water body, protecting the fish and wildlife, protecting the quality of the water itself, or looking at dredged sediments from the perspective of waste disposal requirements. Therefore, each agency may be looking for different data from the sampling results. As a result, persons intending to dredge contaminated sediments are urged to contact each of the agencies with jurisdiction over dredging and fill placement, and to consider requesting a multi-agency pre-sampling meeting to ensure that all the various programmatic goals of the various agencies will be included in their quality assurance plan and a sediment sample analysis plans prior to any sampling. Such multi-agency meetings and the completion of an IDEM-approved sampling plan will not guarantee that there will not be a need for additional testing, once initial test results become available. However, the absence of an approved sampling plan or the lack of adequate communication with each of the various permitting authorities could certainly lead to additional testing and associated expenses as well as a delay of the final permit approval.

What to Expect

In nearly all instances, the placement of dredge or fill into the waters of the state or waters of the U.S. will require multiple permits from multiple state and federal agencies.

Clean sediments may only be re-deposited into waters of the state once you have applied for, and received, approvals and permits from the USACE, IDEM, and/or IDNR. Sediments with the proper characteristics may be used as beach nourishment, pending the approval of the USACE (which will be interested in the grain size of the material) and the county or municipal department of health (which will be concerned that the material is free of any human pathogens). Beach nourishment generally is deposited near the shoreline in water less than 20 feet deep. Otherwise, uncontaminated dredged material not suitable for beach nourishment could possibly, if it is within the Great Lakes, be deposited in open water that is 30 feet deep, or deeper. Please be advised that you must have authorization to deposit dredged or fill material into all waters of the state and waters of the US.

Sediments that are being dredged as part of a remediation effort, or any sediments determined to be contaminated are considered to be solid waste and not be re-deposited within any water body; these sediments must be deposited in an upland location. The return water from such upland dredge placement may require a separate NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit from IDEM’s Office of Water Quality. Contaminated sediment is subject to a TCLP (Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure) test to determine whether the sediment is hazardous. Depending on the outcome of the TCLP classification, sediments may then be designated for beneficial reuse, or disposed of in the appropriate class of landfill (depending on the level of contamination).

  • Many dredging activities can be approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) under a Nationwide Permit or the Indiana Regional General Permit No. 1. Time frames for review depend on the complexity of the project. Permit fees are only required for Standard Permits. No fees are charged for transferring a permit from one property owner to another, for any activities authorized by a general permit, or for permits to governmental agencies.
  • The IDNR Division of Water strives to be efficient with reviews and thorough in its consideration of all information. Typically, IDNR actions are completed within 60 and 120 days from the date on which a complete application was received. No final actions can be taken until the statutorily-mandated 30-day public notice period has expired and comments from the reviewing divisions within IDNR have been received. With the exception of the permitting program within the Navigable Waterways Act, al of the regulatory programs administered by the IDNR contain a non-refundable processing fee. Fees typically range between $10-$200, and were current as of the time of this publication. Fees are subject to change. To view the most up-to-date information on IDNR application fees, visit IDNR’s Division of Water Regulatory Fees Web site (IDNR Web site addresses will change February 1st, 2009).
  • The IDEM Office of Water Quality 401 Water Quality Certification authorizes Section 401 Water Quality Certification for projects with minimal impacts within 30 days from receipt of a complete notification form. For projects that require a site-specific Individual Section 401 Water Quality Certification, IDEM has 120 days from the receipt of a complete application to make an agency decision (approval or denial). A 21-day public notice is required for all site-specific Individual Section 401 Water Quality Certification applications. There are currently no fees for Section 401 Water Quality Certification.
  • The IDEM Office of Land Quality reviews sediment testing plans or makes disposal recommendations for contaminated sediments. However, OLQ does not issue any dredging-related permits, so there are no applications or fees. Review of sediment testing plans usually takes from 20 to 30 days, while waste determinations for disposal of contaminated sediments can take up to 30 additional days.

For Additional Information

To obtain additional information regarding dredging activities and permits please contact one, or more, of the following:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)

Detroit District

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Detroit District Office – Regulatory Program
P.O. Box 1027
Detroit, MI 48231

Phone: (313) 226-2218

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
South Bend Field Office
2422 Viridian Dr.
South Bend, IN 46628

Phone: (574) 232-1952

Louisville District

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Louisville District Office – Regulatory Program
P.O. Box 59
Louisville, KY 40201

Phone: (502) 315-6733

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Indianapolis Field Office
9799 Billings Rd.
Indianapolis, IN 46216

Phone: (317) 532-4198

Overview of Section 404 governing wetlands:

Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)

IDNR - Division of Water
402 W. Washington St.
Room W264
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Phone: (317) 232-4160

Toll Free: (877) 928-3755 (IN Residents only)

IDNR - Division of Water Web site (IDNR Web site addresses will change February 1st, 2009)

Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM)

Indiana Department of Environmental Management
Section 401 Water Quality Certification Program
100 N. Senate Avenue
MC 65-42 WQS IGCN 1255
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Phone: (317) 233-8488
Fax: (317) 234-4145

IDEM Section 401 Water Quality Certification Web site (Web site address will change February 1st, 2009)