Information on Applying for Permits

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Permitting Information

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 Overview of Permits

The Walla Walla District Corps of Engineers and State of Idaho use a Joint Application for Permit form.  It is important that you provide complete information in the requested format to properly process the application.  The information provided will be used to evaluate the proposed activity or project and to determine the appropriate authorization and type of permit that can be issued.

Some activities may fall within the guidelines of previously authorized categories and a nationwide or a regional permit can be issued with no further Corps approvals required.  Other activities may fall within the guidelines of an abbreviated permit processing, requiring a letter of permission to authorize the activities in less than 30 days.  Other activities may require a Public Notice to be issued, where notification of Federal, state, and local agencies, adjacent property owners, and the general public allows the opportunity for review, comment, or to request a public hearing.  Most applications involving Public Notices are completed within four months and many are completed in as little as 60 days.

The processing of an application begins immediately upon receipt of ALL required information, which includes a completed application, vicinity map, plan view and section view drawings, adjacent property notification (if required), and any other project specific information.  Proposed activities then undergo a public interest review.  The application is reviewed, balancing the need and expected benefits against the probable impacts of the activity/project, taking into consideration all comments received and other relevant factors.  The goal is to reach a decision to issue a permit or denial within 60 days after receipt of the completed application.  Although some activities, circumstances, issues, and/or requirements of law may be more complex and additional time beyond the 60 days may be required.

For specific information on the Joint Application for Permit, the evaluation process, or the status an existing application, please contact the local Field Office nearest the location of where the work activities will be conducted. 


The following general criteria are considered in evaluating all applications:
1. The relevant extent of public and private need for the proposed work;
2. Where unresolved conflicts of resource use exist, the practicability of using reasonable alternative locations and methods to accomplish the objective of the proposed structure or work;
3. The extent and permanence of the beneficial and/or detrimental effects the proposed structure or work is likely to have on public and private uses to which the area is suited.

The decision to issue or deny a permit is based on the public interest review and, where applicable, a Section 404(b)(1) guidelines analysis or an analysis of the ocean dumping criteria. The public interest review involves an analysis of the foreseeable impacts the proposed work would have on public interest factors, such as navigation, general environmental concerns, wetlands, economics, fish and wildlife values, land use, floodplain values, and the needs and welfare of the people. The benefits and detriments to all public interest factors relevant to each case are carefully evaluated. The permit decision document includes a discussion of the environmental impacts of the project, the findings of the public interest review process, and any special evaluation required by the type of activity, such as determining compliance with the Section 404(b)(1) guidelines or ocean dumping criteria. Nationwide Permits are issued at the national level and are valid for five (5) years. Individual Permits are issued at the district level. The terms and conditions of an Individual Permit are made on a project-by-project basis.

No permit is granted if the proposed project is found to be contrary to the public interest. If the proposed work involves discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, no permit is granted if the proposed activity is found to be contrary to the Section 404(b)(1) guidelines.

The Corps supports strong partnerships with states in regulating water resource development activities. Such partnerships can be achieved through joint permit processing procedures (e.g., joint permit applications, public notices and public hearings), as well as programmatic general permits founded on effective state programs, transfer of the Section 404 program to states, special area management planning and regional conditioning of nationwide permits.


An application is complete when it contains sufficient information to issue a public notice. At a minimum, a complete application must contain:

      • A description of the proposed activity, including drawings, sketches, plans, etc.
      • The location, purpose, and need for the proposed activity
      • Scheduling of the activity
      • Names and addresses of adjoining property owners
      • The location and dimensions of adjacent structures
      • A list of authorizations required by other federal, interstate, state, or local agencies for the work, including all approvals or denials already received

Note: The Corps' receipt date is the date the application was received by the Corps district office that will process the permit application. The application receipt date and application complete date may not be the same.

Note: A detailed engineering plan or drawings are not required to process an application. Hand sketches are acceptable. All drawings and illustrations should be submitted on an 8-1/2" x 11" white paper and should be reproducible.


Activities that require a Corps permit may also require permits, coordination and/or approvals from other Federal, Tribal, state, or local agencies. 

Some examples include:
- The Endangered Species Act
- Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act
- National Historic Preservation Act, Section 106
- Section 401 Water Quality Certification
- National Wild & Scenic Rivers Act
- Tribal Entities 

 1.  Standard Individual Permits and Letters of Permission (LOP)

An Individual Permit, or IP, may be issued as a standard permit or as a Letter of Permission.

A standard permit is processed through the typical review procedures, including a public notice, opportunity for a public hearing, and receipt of comments.  A standard permit is issued on a case-by-case evaluation of the proposed activities after considering all comments received.  

A Letter of Permission, or LOP, is a type of standard permit that can be issued in accordance with the abbreviated procedures, as outlined in 33 CFR 325.2(e) on navigable waters of the United States.

Routine or minor work activities with minimal impacts and if objections are unlikely may qualify for a LOP.  A Letter of Permission is evaluated by both federal and state agencies and adjacent property owners for 15 days and is typically approved within 60 to 90 days.  An LOP can be issued more quickly than a standard permit because guidelines do not require an individual public notice to be issued. 

If work on a designated navigable water of the United States is routine or minor in scope, with minimal impacts and objections are unlikely, a LOP may be issued.   


The Corps public interest review is the main framework for the overall evaluation of projects.  The public interest review requires the careful weighing of all public interest factors relevant to each particular permit application.  Thus, one specific factor (e.g., fish and wildlife values or economics) cannot by itself force a specific decision, but rather the decision represents the net effect of balancing all public interest factors, many of which are frequently in conflict.

The public interest review is used to evaluate applications under all authorities administered by the Corps.  During the review of a permit application, the Corps evaluates the following public interest review factors:
•   Conservation
•   Economics
•   Aesthetics
•   General environmental concerns
•   Wetlands
•   Historic properties
•   Fish and wildlife values
•   Flood hazards
•   Floodplain values
•   Land use
•   Navigation
•   Shore erosion and accretion
•   Recreation
•   Water supply and conservation
•   Water quality
•   Energy needs
•   Safety
•   Food and fiber production
•   Mineral needs
•   Considerations of property ownership
•   The needs and welfare of the people


The Section 404(b)(1) guidelines are the criteria used to evaluate discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including jurisdictional wetlands, under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. A fundamental principle of the Section 404(b)(1) guidelines is that dredged or fill material should not be discharged into wetlands and other waters, unless it can be demonstrated that the discharge will not have unacceptable adverse impacts on those waters.

The Section 404(b)(1) guidelines also require the following determinations:
(1) the project is the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative (LEDPA),
(2) the project will not cause or contribute to the violation of applicable Federal or state laws, e.g.: water quality standards, Endangered Species Act, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, Wild and Scenic River or designated Study River;
(3) the project will not result in significant degradation of waters of the United States, and
(4) any appropriate and practicable steps have been taken to minimize the adverse impacts of the project on wetlands and other waters

 2.  Nationwide and General Permits


A Nationwide Permit (NWP) is a general permit that authorizes a category of activities throughout the nation by streamlining the approval process for certain types of activities that have minimal impacts to aquatic resources.  These permits are valid only if the conditions applicable to the permit are met.  If the conditions cannot be met, a regional or individual permit will be required.  

Nationwide permits are regulated by 33 CFR Part 330 for certain specified activities.  In most cases, the formal evaluation of a permit application is not required because nationwide permits have already been issued to the public at large by the Corps of Engineers and Congress. 

Examples include fish and wildlife harvesting devices; structures for the exploration, production, and transportation of oil, gas, and minerals; and activities required for the construction, expansion, modification, or improvement of linear transportation projects. 

To apply for a Nationwide Permit, a complete Application Form, a Vicinity Map, one set of plan-view drawings, and one set of section-view drawings must be submitted to the appropriate Field Office


Regional General Permits (RGPs) may be granted for activities that cause only a minimal cumulative impact.

Determining factors for the District Engineer to issue a Regional Permit (for a general category of activities) are:

  1. Are activities similar in nature and cause minimal environmental impacts, both individually and cumulatively? 
  2. Will the regional permit reduces duplication of regulatory control by State and Federal agencies?

Examples of Regional Permits may include activities necessary during the emergency to prevent the loss of life, significant loss of property, or economic hardship; and specific work activities in Pend Oreille Lake and Pend Oreille River.

To apply for a Regional General (RGP) permit, a complete application form, a vicinity map, one set of plan-view drawings, and one set of section-view drawings must be submitted to the appropriate Field Office


Activities under the Nationwide Permit Program must ensure that proposed projects and work activities meet all applicable terms and conditions to minimize impacts to waters of the United States, including wetlands. 

Many NWP authorizations require both prior notification and written verification from the Corps before project/work activities begin.  Prior notification is known as a Pre-Construction Notification, or PCN. 

Joint Application for Permits packet (including required drawings) is used to satisfy the PCN requirement, as outlined in General Condition 32: Pre-Construction Notification.  

The PCN allows the Corps and other regulatory agencies in the State of Idaho to better understand and evaluate the site specific impacts that you are proposing to do in or around waters of the United States, including wetlands, that may affect the aquatic ecosystem, habitats, water access/flow, water quality, etc.  The PCN also allows for a combined effort by the Corps and other agencies to evaluate the measures you propose to take to avoid and/or mitigate for impacts that may damage the environment. 

For further information on PCN's, requirements or where to send your PCN, please contact your local Regulatory Field office. 

Joint Application for Permit

The Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR), and Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) has established a joint process for activities impacting jurisdictional waterways that require review and/or approval of both the Corps and the State of Idaho. The Stream Application Alteration Permit is the same application as the Walla Walla District Corps of Engineers 404 Joint Application. You only need to fill out the application once; you can send the same copy to all agencies as needed.

Click the link below to be taken to the application:

 Joint Application for Permit 

Department of Army permits are required by Section 10 of the Rivers & Harbors Act (1899) and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

State permits are required under the State of Idaho, Stream Protection Act, Title 42, Chapter 38, Idaho Code and the Lake Protection Act, Section 58, Chapter 13 et seq., Idaho Code. 

Required Drawings & Illustrations

Three types of drawings are required to accurately depict work activities:

     (1) the vicinity map,
     (2) the plan view drawing, and
     (3) the sectional view drawing

All drawings or illustrations must be included for the application to be considered complete.  Drawings do not have to be prepared by an engineer or consultant, but professional assistance may become necessary if the project is large and/or complex.  Submit the fewest number of sheets necessary to adequately show the proposed work activities.

Submit one original, good, quality drawing on white paper no larger than 8-12 x 11 inches.  Drawings must be prepared using the general format of samples provided and use block lettering.  Leave a 1-inch margin at the top of each sheet for reproduction and binding purposes.

Drawings must be reproduced; therefore color shading cannot be used. Heavy dark lines, dot shading, hatching, or similar graphic symbols may be used instead of color shading to clarify drawings.

Click the link below to view sample drawings:

 Sample Drawings/Illustrations

Supplemental Information on Drawings & Illustrations

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 Notes Required to be Placed on All Drawings
Title Block, with all required information must be on vicinity map, plan view, and section view drawings – see TITLE BLOCK section below for specific details

Names of adjacent property owners who may be affected by proposed activity: Complete names, addresses, and daytime telephone number must be included in section provided for in the Joint Application for Permit

Legal property description: latitude/longitude, number, name of subdivision, block, lot number from plot, deed, or tax assessment information, etc. 

Photographs of the site of the proposed activity are not required.  However, pictures are helpful and may be submitted as part of any application.  Illustrations need not be professional; however, they must be clear, accurate, and contain all necessary information so a proper and timely evaluation can be done.

 Title Block Required on All Drawings
The title block of each sheet of drawing must include the following:
  • Project name/title
  • Name of the waterbody
  • River mile (if applicable)
  • Name of county & state
  • Name of applicant
  • Date drawings are prepared
  • Number of sheet & total number of sheets in set (e.g.: 1:3, 2:3, 3:3)

 The Vicinity Map (Location Map)

The vicinity map is used to identify and locate the proposed activity and its location. 

It will be included in any public notice that is issued and used by the Corps of Engineers or other reviewing agency.  Use of an existing road map or US Geological Survey topographic (scale 1:24,000) may be used as the vicinity map.  Include enough details to simplify locating the site from both the waterbody and from land. 

Identify the source of the map or chart from the larger vicinity map used and, if not already shown, include the following:

  • Title block with all required information (see above)        
  • Location of activity site (draw an arrow showing the exact location of the site on the map)
  • Latitude, longitude, river mile (if known) and/or other information that coincides with Block 11 of the application form
  • Name of the waterbody and name of the larger river, stream, creek, etc. that the waterbody is immediately tributary to
  • Names, description, locations of well-known landmarks
  • Names of all applicable political jurisdictions (county, town, city, community, etc)
  • Names of & distance to nearest town, community, and other identifying locations
  • Names and numbers of all roads in the vicinity of the proposed activity site
  • North arrow
  • Scale

 The Plan View Drawing

The plan view drawing shows the proposed activity as if you were looking straight down on it from above (as if flying over it). 

The plan view drawing must clearly show the following:

  • Title Block, with all required information – see above
  • Name of waterbody (river, creek, stream, pond, lake, wetland, etc)
  • River mile at location of activity – if known
  • Existing shorelines
  • Mean High water line and Mean Low water line
  • Ordinary High water line and Ordinary Low water line
  • Average water depths around the activity
  • Dimensions of the activity and distance activity extends from the High Water line into the water
  • Distances to nearby projects - if applicable
  • Distance between proposed activity and navigation channel – where applicable
  • Location of structures, if any, in navigable waters immediately adjacent to the proposed activity
  • Location of wetlands (marshes, swamps, tidal flats, etc.)
  • North arrow
  • Scale
  • If dredge material is involved, a description of the type of material, number of cubic yards, method of handling, location of fill and spoil disposal area.  The drawing should depict proposed retention levees, weirs, and/or other means for retaining hydraulically placed materials   
  • Mark the drawing to indicate previously completed portions of the activity – if applicable

 The Cross Sectional Drawing (Elevation View)

The cross section drawing (sometimes called elevation view) is a scale drawing that shows the side, front, or rear of the proposed activity.  The section view depicts the proposed structure as it would appear if cut internally and displayed. 

The section view drawing must clearly show the following:

  • Title Block, with all required information – see above
  • Water elevations – as shown in the plan view drawing
  • Water depth at waterward face of proposed activity OR if dredging is proposed, dredging and estimated disposal grades
  • Dimensions from Mean High water line or proposed fill or float; describe any structures to be build on the platform
  • Cross section of excavation or fill – include approximate side slopes
  • Graphic or numerical scale
  • Principal dimensions of the activity
  • Name of waterbody (river, creek, stream, pond, lake, wetland, etc)