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General Permits

General permits are authorizations that are issued on a nationwide, statewide, or regional basis for a category or categories of activities that are similar in nature and do not cause more than minimal individual and cumulative adverse environmental effects. General permits include Nationwide Permits (NWPs), Regional General Permits (RGPs), and Programmatic General Permits (PGPs). Notification requirements are associated with many NWPs. In addition, regional notification requirements may be added as needed. Pre-construction notification may be required for certain Nationwide Permit activities before the permittee may begin work in waters of the U.S. Even if notification to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is not required in association with an activity in waters of the United States, when communicating with applicants, the Corps should advise the applicants they are still responsible for compliance with all applicable terms and conditions of the NWP that would authorize the work in jurisdictional waters. The use of more than one NWP to authorize a single and complete project is prohibited, except when the acreage loss of waters of the United States authorized by the NWPs does not exceed the acreage limit of the NWP with the highest specified acreage limit (general condition 24, “Use of Multiple Nationwide Permits”). An activity can be authorized by more than one general permit, if the activity is a single and complete project (33 CFR 330.2(i)), that will result in no more than minimal adverse environmental effects, and that will satisfy the terms and conditions of the applicable General Permits. A delineation of special aquatic sites is required for a complete NWP preconstruction notification.

Regional and Programmatic General Permits may be issued by a district or division engineer. RGPs can improve regulatory consistency and enhance program efficiency. PGPs are a type of General Permit that can be used to avoid duplication with other agencies, such as state programs regulating discharges of dredged or fill material into wetlands, to simplify the permit process for the regulated public, while protecting the aquatic environment. PGPs can help districts direct their limited resources to permit applications that may have greater environmental impacts (33 CFR 325.5(c)(3)).

Nationwide Permits

Nationwide Permits: A Nationwide Permit is a form of general permit which authorizes a category of activities throughout the nation. These permits are valid only if the conditions applicable to the permits are met. If the conditions cannot be met, a regional or individual permit will be required. Summaries of the nationwide permits are available. A few of the nationwide permits are briefly listed here:

  • Repair, rehabilitation, or replacement of a structure or fill which was previously authorized and currently serviceable. The structure or fill must not be significantly changed.
  • Utility lines placed across a waterway. Discharge of bedding and backfill material is permitted if bottom contours are not changed.
  • Single projects of less than 10 cubic yards of fill. Piecemeal work is not authorized.
  • Bank stabilization projects less than 500 feet long containing less than an average of one cubic yard of material per running foot. The activity must be necessary for erosion protection and may not exceed the minimum amount needed for erosion protection. Fill is not to be placed in wetland areas or in a manner that impairs water flow. Materials free of waste metal products and unsightly debris must be used and the activity must be a single, complete project.
  • Minor road crossing fills (temporary or permanent) that place less than 200 cubic yards or fill below the ordinary high water mark. The crossing must be bridged or culverted to prevent restriction of high flows. The fill placed in waters of the US is limited to no more than one-third of an acre.
  • Aquatic habitat restoration allows for fills into waters of the US associated with the restoration, enhancement, and establishment of tidal and non-tidal wetlands and riparian areas.
  • Temporary construction, access, and dewatering for temporary structures, work, and discharges including cofferdams, necessary for construction activities or access fills or dewatering for work in waters of the US including wetlands.

Regional General Permits

Regional General Permits: Regional General Permits are issued by the District Engineer for a general category of activities when the activities are similar in nature and cause minimal environmental impact (both individually and cumulatively), and the Regional General Permit reduces duplication of regulatory control by State and Federal agencies.

Programmatic General Permits

Programmatic General Permits: A Programmatic General Permit purpose is to reduce the duplication of permitting effort between the Corps and another agency. The majority of the categories of work authorized under a PGP are for minor actions which are currently authorized by the existing Nationwide and Regional Permits. The implementation of the PGP will eliminate the need for separate approval from the Corps for minor work located in waters of the United States, including navigable waters, when that work is authorized by the a separate agency.

Contact Information

Phone: 912-652-5050

Email: cesas-rd@usace.army.mil