This section provides abridged definitions of commonly used terms that are associated with the Corps' regulatory program. For the complete definitions provided in the Corps' regulations, please refer to the Code of Federal Regulations (33 CFR Parts 320 through 331):
404(b)(1) Guidelines (40 CFR Part 230) are the criteria used in evaluating discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including jurisdictional wetlands, under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The 404(b)(1) guidelines provide procedures used to evaluate the impacts of discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States. These guidelines restrict discharges of dredged or fill material where less environmentally damaging practicable alternatives exist.
Activity(ies) regulated by the Corps include the construction, modification, or removal of structures and other work (such as dredging) in navigable waters of the United States. Other activities that the Corps regulates include discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including jurisdictional wetlands.
Alternatives analysis is the process the Corps uses to determine, based upon available information, whether the proposed project is the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative. An alternative is practicable if it is available to the applicant and is capable of being done after considering costs, existing technology, and logistics in light of overall project purposes.
Authorization means that specific activities that qualify for a general permit may proceed, provided that the terms and conditions of the general permit are met.
Coastal Zone Management Act consistency determination means a finding that an activity that affects land or water uses or natural resources in a state’s coastal zone is in compliance or not in compliance with that state’s Federally-approved Coastal Zone Management Act Program. (See 33 CFR 330.4(d)(1) and 33 CFR 325.2(b)(2).)
Compensatory Mitigation means, for the purposes of the Corps regulatory program, the restoration, establishment, enhancement, or protection/maintenance of wetlands and/or other aquatic resources for the purpose of compensating for unavoidable adverse impacts which remain after all appropriate and practicable avoidance and minimization have been achieved.
Date determined complete means the date on which the Corps determined that the application contained the information required by 33 CFR 325.1(d)(9) for standard permits, General Condition 31 for nationwide permits, or the conditions of regional or programmatic general permits.
Date received complete means the date of receipt for all information required by 33 CFR 325.1(d)(9) for standard permits, General Condition 31 for nationwide permits, or the conditions of regional or programmatic general permits. For standard permits, this is the date that starts the 15 day clock for public notices. For nationwide permits, this is the date that starts the 45 day pre-construction notification review period.
Denied with prejudice means that the request for a Corps permit is denied because the proposed work is contrary to the public interest and/or does not comply with the Section 404(b)(1) guidelines.
Denied without prejudice means that the permit applicant can reinstate processing of the permit application if subsequent approval is received from the appropriate Federal, state, or local agency that previously denied authorization.
Discharge of dredged material means any addition of dredged material into, including redeposit of dredged material other than incidental fallback within, the waters of the United States (See 33 CFR 323.2(d) for the complete definition of this term).
Discharge of fill material means the addition of fill material into waters of the United States. (See 33 CFR 323.2[f] for the complete definition of this term).
Dredged material is material that is excavated or dredged from waters of the United States.
Fill material means material placed in waters of the United States where the material has the effect of: (1) Replacing any portion of a water of the United States with dry land; or (2) Changing the bottom elevation of any portion of a water of the United States. Examples of such fill material include, but are not limited to: rock, sand, soil, clay, plastics, construction debris, wood chips, overburden from mining or other excavation activities, and materials used to create any structure or infrastructure in the waters of the United States. The term fill material does not include rash or garbage. (See 33 CFR 323.2(e) for the complete definition of this term.)
General permit means a Department of the Army authorization that is issued on a nationwide or regional basis for a category or categories of activities that are substantially similar in nature and cause only minimal individual or cumulative environmental impacts. A general permit can be issued on a nationwide, regional, or programmatic basis.
High tide line is a line or mark left upon a tidal flat, a beach, or along the shore that indicates the intersection of the land with the water's surface at the maximum height reached by a rising tide. The high tide line may be determined by tidal gages, physical markings or characteristics, vegetation lines, a more or less continuous deposit of fine shell or debris on the foreshore or berm, or other suitable means such as a line of oil or scum along the shore that delineate the general height reached by a rising tide. The term includes spring high tides and other high tides that occur with periodic frequency, but does not include storm surges in which there is a departure from the normal or predicted reach of the tide due to the piling up of water against a coast by strong winds such as those accompanying a hurricane or other intense storm.
Incidental fallback is the redeposit of small volumes of dredged material that is incidental to excavation activity in waters of the United States when such material falls back to substantially the same place as the initial removal. Examples of incidental fallback include soil that is disturbed when dirt is shoveled and the back-spill that comes off a bucket when such small volume of soil or dirt falls into substantially the same place from which it was initially removed. (See 33 CFR 323.2(d)(2)(ii) for the complete definition of this term.)
Individual permit means a standard permit or a letter of permission.
Jurisdictional determination means a written Corps determination that a wetland and/or waterbody is subject to regulatory jurisdiction under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act or a written determination that a waterbody is subject to regulatory jurisdiction under Sections 9 or 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. (See 33 CFR 331.2 for the complete definition of this term.)
Letters of permission are a type of permit issued through an abbreviated processing procedure which includes coordination with Federal and state fish and wildlife agencies, as required by the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, and a public interest evaluation, but without the publishing of an individual public notice. A letter of permission cannot be used to authorize the transportation of dredged material for the purpose of dumping it in ocean waters.
Mitigation means avoiding, minimizing, rectifying, reducing, or compensating for resource losses.
Nationwide permits are a type of general permit issued by the Chief of Engineers to authorize, with little delay or paperwork, activities across the country that have minimal adverse environmental impacts.
Navigable waters of the United States are those waters of the United States that are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide shoreward to the mean high water line and/or those waters that are presently used, or have been used in the past or may be susceptible to use for interstate or foreign commerce. These are waters that are navigable in the traditional sense. Permits are required in these waters pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act. This term should not be confused with the term “waters of the United States”, which is defined below.
Ordinary high water line, with respect to non-tidal waters, is the line on the shore established by the fluctuations of water and indicated by physical characteristics such as a clear, natural line impressed upon the bank, shelving, changes in the character of soil, destruction of terrestrial vegetation, the presence of litter and debris, or other appropriate means that consider the characteristics of the surrounding areas.
Pre-application meeting is a meeting between Corps staff and a potential permit applicant and/or agent regarding a proposed activity within the Corps regulatory jurisdiction. The meeting may also involve representatives of Federal and state resource agencies. The meeting may involve discussions of jurisdiction, practicable alternatives, environmental documents, National Environmental Policy Act procedures, and mitigation. Such meetings often benefit the applicant by providing useful information which could prevent delays during permit evaluation. For dredging permits, a pre-application meeting may facilitate the process by determining what, if any, sediment testing may be required.
Pre-construction notification (PCN) means advance notification to be submitted to a district engineer, so that the district engineer can determine whether the proposed work qualifies for nationwide permit authorization (see General Condition 31 of the nationwide permits).
Programmatic general permits are a type of general permit founded on an existing state, local, or other Federal agency program and are designed to avoid duplication with that program.
Public hearings are held to acquire additional information in connection with a permit application. The Corps may conduct a hearing or participate in joint public hearings with other Federal or state agencies. In addition, any person may request a public hearing in writing during the comment period specified in the public notice. Specific reasons must be given as to the need for a hearing. Public hearings are held at times and places that are convenient for the interested public. A public hearing is occasionally needed to complete the decision process.
Public interest review refers to the evaluation of a proposed activity to determine whether issuance of the permit is in the public interest. Expected benefits are balanced against reasonably foreseeable detriments. All relevant public interest factors are weighed. The Corps policy is to provide each applicant with a timely and carefully weighed decision which reflects the public interest.
Public notice is the primary method of advising interested public agencies and private parties of a proposed activity. The public notice is used to solicit comments and information necessary to evaluate the probable impacts of the project on the public interest. Upon request, the Corps will add anyone's name to the distribution list to receive public notices.
Regional permit (or regional general permit) means a type of general permit issued by a division or district engineer after public notice and comment. If the public interest so requires, the division or district engineer may condition the regional permit to require a case-by-case reporting and acknowledgment system. However, no separate applications or other authorization documents will be required.
Standard permit means a permit that has been processed through the public interest review procedures, including public notice and receipt of comments.
Tidal waters are those waters that rise and fall in a predictable and measurable rhythm or cycle due to gravitational pulls of the moon and sun. Tidal waters end where the rise and fall of the water surface can no longer be practicably measured in a predictable rhythm due to masking by hydrologic, wind, or other effects.
Water quality certification (WQC) means that a state, Tribe, or the Environmental Protection Agency has issued or waived a Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality certification for an activity that involves discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States. If water quality certification is denied, the Corps permit is denied without prejudice.
Waters of the United States is a broader term than “navigable waters of the United States,” which is defined above. This term includes navigable waters and all their tributaries, adjacent wetlands and other waters or wetlands where degradation or destruction could affect interstate or foreign commerce.
Permits are required for the discharge of dredged or fill material in these waters pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
Wetlands means those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration to support, and that under normal circumstances support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas.