U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Permits Overview
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorizes projects in several different ways with several different types of permits. This page is meant to provide you with a brief overview of the three (3) most common types of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits - the Nationwide Permits, the Regional General Permit No. 1, and the Individual Permit.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide Permits (NWPs)
What are Nationwide Permits?
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Nationwide Permits are meant 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." The Nationwide Permits allow the Corps to focus their limited resources on activities important to them. It is not surprising that, given the Corps' much broader focus both in terms of geography and in terms of public interest review, their focus would differ somewhat from Indiana's focus. Congress must have anticipated this because they created a mechanism for the states to use to ensure that activities permitted by the Corps do not degrade water quality or violate other applicable laws. That mechanism is the State Water Quality Certification (also known as Section 401 Water Quality Certification).
Which Nationwide Permits are approved by both IDEM and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Indiana?
The table below lists all of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide Permits currently in existence. Each U.S. Army Corps of Engineers District is allowed to tailor the Nationwide Permits to the particular needs of that district. Some districts condition Nationwide Permits, some deny them, etc. In Indiana, the Louisville, Detroit, and Chicago Corps Districts have suspended Nationwide Permits 13, 14, 18, 29, 36, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, and 44; this is why they do not show up in the table below. In place of these suspended permits, the Corps established the Indiana Regional General Permit No. 1 (Corps RGP).
- Nationwide Permits 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 19, 21, 22, 24, 28, 30, 33, 45, 49, and 50) have already received IDEM Section 401 Water Quality Certification.
- Applicants who apply for a Nationwide Permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must meet all terms and conditions of that particular Nationwide Permit. They must also meet general conditions [PDF] imposed by IDEM.
- Note: As long as an applicant meets all the terms and conditions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and all of the general conditions imposed by IDEM, an applicant does not need to apply separately to IDEM for 401 WQC.
- Nationwide Permits 3, 7, 12, 15, 25, 27, 37, 46, 51, and 52 are subject to both general and special conditions imposed by IDEM.
- Applicants who apply for a Nationwide Permit must meet all terms and conditions of that particular Nationwide Permit. Applicants must also meet general conditions and specific conditions for that particular Nationwide Permit. Some of these Nationwide Permits require that you submit the IDEM Regional General Permit Notification Form to IDEM.
- If the project does not meet all of the general conditions and special conditions imposed by IDEM, then you will need to apply for an individual, site-specific Section 401 Water Quality Certification using the IDEM Application for Authorization to Discharge Dredged or Fill Material to Isolated Wetlands and/or Waters of the State (available on the IDEM Forms page).
- Nationwide Permits 8, 16, 17, 20, 23, 26, 31, 32, 34, 35, 38, 47, 48, 53, and 54have not had Section 401 Water Quality Certification approved for them (401 WQC has been denied). This means that although an applicant may apply for and receive that particular Nationwide Permit for that project from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the project will require an individual, site-specific Section 401 Water Quality Certification from IDEM.
You will need to submit IDEM's Application for Authorization to Discharge Dredged or Fill Material to Isolated Wetlands and/or Waters of the State (available on the IDEM Forms page) and receive an approval before your project is considered authorized by IDEM.
Section 401 Water Quality Certification Decisions for NWPs in effect for the State of Indiana - 2017
|1||Aids to Navigation||Approve||General|
|2||Structures in Artificial Channels||Approve||General|
|3||Maintenance||Approve||General & Specific|
|4||Fish and Wildlife Harvesting, Enhancement, and Attraction Devices and Activities||Approve||General|
|5||Scientific Measurement Devices||Approve||General|
|7||Outfall Structures and Associated Intake Structures||Approve||General & Specific|
|8||Oil and Gas Structures on the Outer Continental Shelf||Deny||N/A|
|9||Structures in Fleeting and Anchorage Areas||Approve||General|
|11||Temporary Recreational Structures||Approve||General|
|12||Utility Line Activities||Approve||General & Specific|
|15||U.S. Coast Guard Approved Bridges||Approve||General & Specific|
|16||Return Water from Upland Contained Disposal Areas||Deny||N/A|
|20||Oil Spill Cleanup||Deny||N/A|
|21||Surface Coal Mining Operations||Approve||General|
|22||Removal of Vessels||Approve||General|
|23||Approved Categorical Exclusions||Deny||N/A|
|24||Indian Tribe or State Administered Section 404 Program||Approve||General|
|25||Structural Discharges||Approve||General & Specific|
|27||Aquatic Habitat Restoration, Establishment, and Enhancement Activities||Approve||General & Specific|
|28||Modifications of Existing Marinas||Approve||General|
|30||Moist Soil Management for Wildlife||Approve||General|
|31||Maintenance of Existing Flood Control Facilities||Deny||N/A|
|32||Completed Enforcement Actions||Deny||N/A|
|33||Temporary Construction, Access, and Dewatering||Approve||General|
|34||Cranberry Production Activities||Deny||N/A|
|35||Maintenance Dredging of Existing Basins||Deny||N/A|
|37||Emergency Watershed Protection and Rehabilitation||Approve||General & Specific|
|38||Cleanup of Hazardous and Toxic Waste||Deny||N/A|
|45||Repair of Uplands Damaged by Discrete Events||Approve||General|
|46||Discharges to Ditches||Approve||General & Specific|
|48||Existing Commercial Shellfish Aquaculture Activities||Deny||N/A|
|49||Coal Remining Activities||Approve||General|
|50||Underground Coal Mining Activities||Approve||General|
|51||Land-based Renewable Energy Generation Facilities||Approve||General & Specific|
|52||Water-based Renewable Energy Generation Pilot Projects||Approve||General & Specific|
|53||Removal of Low-Head Dams||Deny||N/A|
What does it mean if Section 401 Water Quality Certification for a Nationwide Permit is denied?
If IDEM has denied Section 401 Water Quality Certification for a Nationwide Permit, it just means that IDEM wants to take a closer look at that particular activity; IDEM's closer look means that the project will require an individual, site-specific Section 401 Water Quality Certification. Most of the Nationwide Permit activities that IDEM denied certification on, such as shellfish aquaculture activities and cranberry production, are not applicable in Indiana, but some are denied because IDEM must ensure that the activity does not result in degradation of water quality or violation of other applicable state laws.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Individual Permit (IP)
What is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Individual Permit?
The Corps' Individual Permit (IP) is used for projects proposing extensive impacts or impacts to rare or special aquatic types. Generally speaking, the Corps' IP is always used for projects that propose impacts equal to or greater than one (1) acre of wetland or stream. The Corps can, at their discretion, elevate any project to be reviewed as an Individual Permit.
Individual Permits require the evaluation of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers applications under a public interest review and the environmental criteria set forth in the Clean Water Act Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Regional General Permit No. 1 (U.S. ACE RGP No. 1)
What is the Regional General Permit No. 1?
The Louisville, Detroit, and Chicago District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers established the Indiana Regional General Permit No. 1 (Corps RGP) on December 15, 2014, to take the place of several Nationwide Permits which have been suspended in Indiana. If a project is not large enough to require an Individual Permit, and is not small enough to fall under a Nationwide Permit, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will review an application under their RGP No. 1.
The Corps' Regional General Permit No. 1 is NOT the same as IDEM's Regional General Permit Notification Form. The names are just similar.
In general, the Corps' Regional General Permit No. 1 can be used by the Corps to authorize most projects that affect less than one (1) acre of waters of the United States. The following types of activities can be authorized by the Corps' RGP No. 1:
- New Construction Activities, including filling and grading, dredging, channelization, road crossings, culverts, bank stabilization.
- Agricultural Activities, including clearing, tiling, ditching, fills for buildings or access roads.
- Mining Activities, including staging, access, extraction, berms, temporary storage. Excludes surface coal mining.
The following Maximum Limitations are placed on the RGP No. 1 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:
- 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;
- Discharges of dredged or fill material into Lake Michigan are limited to one tenth (0.1) acre, except for bank stabilization;
- Impacts resulting from filling greater than one tenth (0.1) acre of special aquatic sites, or work causing more than minimal effects will require mitigation to compensate for impacts to the stream, special aquatic sites or wetlands affected. Other work or structures in navigable waters will be evaluated and must include mitigation to reduce impacts to minimum levels.
All proposed projects are subject to the Corps' restrictions and the Corps' RGP No. 1 General Conditions detailed in their Public Notice issued December 15, 2014 [PDF].
- Terms & Conditions of all U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide Permits (2017) [PDF]
- Reprint of Corps of Engineers Final Notice of Reauthorization of Nationwide Permits [PDF]
- Reprint of IDEM’s Section 401 Water Quality Certification for Regional General Permit No. 1 (includes all conditions and special aquatic sites) [PDF]
- Reprint of IDEM's Section 401 Water Quality Certification for Nationwide Permits (includes all general conditions and all special conditions) [PDF]
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Public Notice (12/15/2014) for the Indiana RGP No. 1 [PDF]