Corps Announces 2017 Nationwide Permits

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced on January 6 that the revised and renewed nationwide permits (NWPs) are available and will become official on March 19. These NWPs are necessary for work in streams, wetlands and other waters of the United States under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899.  More information available here.

Users will notice a few things different with the New NWPs, right off the bat.  For one, in the summary table (LINK) there is now a column for “Delineation Required, Yes or No”.  This is new clarification, and one that seems very appropriate.  It only makes sense – to spell out when a delineation is required, which is usually tied to whether or not there are impact thresholds stated.

NWP Summary Table
NWP Summary Table

One addition that we personally found interesting was in NWP 27 –  Aquatic Habitat Restoration,  Enhancement, and Establishment Activities.  The Corps has added the requirement to use an ecological reference to plan, design, and implement the NWP activity. The Corps has also added the removal of stream barriers, such as undersized culverts, fords, and grade control structures, to list of examples of authorized activities.

One PCN that seems to cause much confusion in the professional world is NWP 41 – Reshaping Existing Drainage Ditches.  In the new NWPs, the Corps has removed the need for a Pre-construction Notification (PCN) for this activity, which is a good move.  Farmers just want to be able to maintain their ditches, without having to drop thousands of dollars on a consultant every time.

Two new NWPS have been introduced.  One of these is:

NWP 53 – Removal of LowHead Dams. There are no limits, and all activities require a PCN.  A wetland delineation IS required, and this NWP applies to all waters of the U.S.

NWP 53 authorizes the removal of low-head dams for stream restoration and public safety. “Low-head dam” defined as a dam built to pass upstream flows over the entire width of the dam crest on a continual and uncontrolled basis. As a general rule, compensatory mitigation is not required for these activities because they result in net increases in stream ecological functions and services. NWP does not authorize regulated activities for restoration of stream in vicinity of former impoundment (these activities may be authorized by NWP 27), or bank stabilization activities (these activities may be authorized by NWP 13).

This post is simply a quick introduction to a few of the changes.  For the full list visit:

http://www.usace.army.mil/Portals/2/docs/civilworks/nwp/2017/nwp2017_sumtable_Jan2017.pdf?ver=2017-01-06-091151-173

And, as you plan your field work, don’t forget to stop by and pick up some things you may need, such as some Wetland Flagging, a new Munsell soil-color chart, or anything else you might need!

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Munsell notations for each color providing value, hue, chroma, which is used with medium, fine-grained and coarse-grained rocks.

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January 15, 2017

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