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Reservoir Permit Evaluations

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Frequently asked questions about USACE reservoir permitting

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The overall mission of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Regulatory Program (Regulatory) is to protect the nation's aquatic resources while allowing reasonable development through fair, flexible and balanced permit decisions.  Regulatory oversees the permitting of water supply reservoirs pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and if necessary, Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act (RHA).  Accordingly, before a reservoir may be built, a Department of the Army (DA) permit must be obtained if the construction involves the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including wetlands.  Regulatory is responsible for managing and evaluating permit applications to ensure that the project complies with all Federal laws and policies and is not contrary to the public’s interest. Regulatory also must ensure that environmental impacts are avoided and minimized to the maximum practicable extent and that compensatory mitigation is provided to offset unavoidable impacts to the aquatic environment.
Along with the applicant, Regulatory project managers must seek to find the least environmentally-damaging practicable alternative that satisfies the basic project purpose while avoiding and minimizing impacts to the aquatic environment.  Regulatory must also assess potential impacts to threatened and endangered species, cultural resources and Native American tribal interests. Other major components of a reservoir evaluation include complex hydrology modeling, safe yield analysis, detailed analysis of alternatives, consideration of public interest factors, compensatory mitigation plan development and approval, and the significance determination. This analysis is documented in either an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
As Regulatory is not the only agency responsible for complying with environmental laws and regulations, applications for water supply reservoirs must cross many desks. Federal and State agencies involved with evaluating reservoirs in Georgia include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, as well as the Georgia Department of Natural Resources; including the Environmental Protection Division, Historic Preservation Division, and if in the coastal area, the Coastal Resources Division.  The Georgia Environmental Protection Division is also responsible for issuing Section 401 Water Quality Certifications and Water Withdrawal Permits for proposed reservoir projects. In some cases, the USACE Savannah District must also coordinate with the Mobile District, whose civil works boundary overlaps Savannah District's Regulatory jurisdiction in Georgia. Many existing Federal projects constructed in the public interest and managed by the Mobile District could be adversely impacted by one Regulatory permit in Georgia; hence, the need for very close coordination between the two districts.
Public involvement is mandated by NEPA ensuring that everyone is informed and provided an opportunity for their voices to be heard.  The public plays an active and important role in reviewing and commenting upon reservoir proposals through public notices, information meetings and other public engagements. It is important to consider that the citizens to be served by the new reservoir are not the only stakeholders that Regulatory must consider. All downstream citizens within Georgia and neighboring states have a stake in Regulatory’s permit decision. Water supply projects generate substantial interest at all political levels due to the potential to affect future economic growth in surrounding communities, potential impacts to waterways across state lines, as well as the effect such projects have on the environment.
Upon completion of its review, Regulatory may decide to: a) issue the permit; b) issue the permit with modifications; c) issue the permit with special conditions designed to reduce impacts; or d) deny the permit. It is important to note that should the State of Georgia deny the accompanying Section 401 Water Quality Certification, or if in a coastal area, the Coastal Zone Management Act permit, Regulatory must deny the Department of the Army permit, without prejudice, or issue a “provisional permit” which is not valid until the required State permit is obtained by the applicant.

Administrative withdrawal occurs when the Corps ceases evaluating a permit application. Withdrawal of the application can be at the request of the applicant, or by the Corps if we determine that we do not have sufficient information to make a final decision, and/or have not received information requested from the applicant. It does not mean that a permit for a proposed project has been denied. A permit applicant can request that we reopen the application once they provide the requested information in its entirety. New, relevant information submitted in support of a request to reopen the application will be analyzed in accordance with any substantive changes in applicable law(s), policies, or regulations, and will inform the Corps' subsequent analysis of the application [ref. 33 C.F.R. 325.2(d)(5)].

Reservoir Fact Sheets

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Parks Creek Reservoir (PDF)

Department of the Army Permit Issued: August 6, 2014

Location: Jefferson County, Georgia
Basin: Altamaha River
Watershed:  Upper Oconee River
Applicant: City of Jefferson
Purpose: Water supply
Proposed Size: 166 acres normal pool
Estimated Safe Yield: 4 million gallons per day (MGD)
Estimated impacts to USACE Jurisdiction: 0.26 acres of wetlands / 20,475 linear feet of waters of the United States
Proposed Compensatory Mitigation: Permittee-responsible
Application received: December 29, 2004
Joint Public Notice issued: September 21, 2005

Coordinating Agencies:

  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources (Environmental Protection Division)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 

Richland Creek Reservoir (PDF)

Department of the Army Permit Issued: October 9, 2015

Location: Paulding County, Georgia
Basin: ACT (Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa)
Watershed: Etowah River
Applicant: Paulding County Board of Commissioners
Purpose: Water supply
Proposed Size: 305 Acres Normal Pool
Estimated Safe Yield: 35 million gallons per day (MGD)
Estimated impacts to USACE Jurisdiction: 1.34 acres of wetlands / 50,201.28 linear feet of waters of the United States
Proposed Compensatory Mitigation: Commercial mitigation bank credits
Application received: October 5, 2011
Joint Public Notice issued: November 23, 2011

Coordinating Agencies:

  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources (Environmental Protection Division)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mobile District

Newton County Reservoir (PDF)

Status Update: Permit application was administratively withdrawn (see Reservoir Permitting FAQs) on August 28, 2015.

Location: Newton County, Georgia
Basin: Altamaha River  
Watershed: Upper Ocmulgee River
Applicant: Newton County Board of Commissioners
Purpose: Water supply
Proposed Size: 1,242 acres normal pool
Estimated Safe Yield: 28 million gallons per day (MGD)
Estimated impacts to USACE Jurisdiction: 35.38 acres of wetlands / 121,472 linear feet of waters of the United States
Proposed Compensatory Mitigation: Permittee-responsible Application received: December 17, 2007 (revised application) Joint Public Notice issued: June 9, 2000

Coordinating Agencies:

  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources (Environmental Protection Division)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

South Fulton Reservoir (PDF)

Status Update: Permit application was administratively withdrawn (see Reservoir Permitting FAQs) on September 16, 2015.

Location: Fulton County, Georgia
Basin: ACF (Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint)
Watershed: Chattahoochee River
Applicant: South Fulton Municipal Regional Water and Sewer Authority
Purpose: Water supply
Proposed Size: 440 acres normal pool
Estimated Safe Yield: 16.44 million gallons per day (MGD)
Estimated impacts to USACE Jurisdiction: 30.06 acres of wetlands / 40,913 linear feet of waters of the United States / 5.5 acres of open waters
Proposed Compensatory Mitigation: Permittee-responsible
Application received: February 17, 2009
Joint Public Notice issued: March 18, 2009

Coordinating Agencies:

  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources (Environmental Protection Division)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District

Indian Creek Reservoir (PDF)

Status Update: Permit application was administratively withdrawn (see Reservoir Permitting FAQs) on February 22, 2016.

Location: Carroll County, Georgia
Basin: ACT (Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa)
Watershed: Little Tallapoosa River
Applicant: Carroll County Water Authority
Purpose: Water supply
Proposed Size: 643 acres normal pool
Estimated Safe Yield: 18 million gallons per day (MGD)
Estimated impacts to USACE Jurisdiction: 18.8 acres of wetlands / 47,468 linear feet of waters of the United States
Proposed Compensatory Mitigation: Permittee-responsible
Application received: December 9, 2008
Joint Public Notice issued: January 13, 2011

Coordinating Agencies:

  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources (Environmental Protection Division)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District

Russell Creek Reservoir (PDF)

Status Update: Permit application was administratively withdrawn (see Reservoir Permitting FAQs) on February 18, 2016.
     
Location: Dawson County, Georgia
Basin: ACT (Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa)
Watershed: Etowah River
Applicant: Etowah Water and Sewer Authority
Purpose: Water supply
Proposed Size: 137 acres normal pool
Estimated Safe Yield: 11.5 million gallons per day (MGD)
Estimated impacts to USACE Jurisdiction: 5.9 acres of wetlands / 22,344 linear feet of waters of the United States
Proposed Compensatory Mitigation: Commercial mitigation bank credits
Application received: December 7, 2007
Joint Public Notice issued: February 2, 2008
         
Coordinating Agencies:

  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources (Environmental Protection Division)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mobile District

Glades Reservoir (PDF)

Status Update: Permit application was administratively withdrawn (see Reservoir Permitting FAQs) on April 15, 2016.

Location: Hall County, Georgia
Basin: ACF (Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint) 
Watershed: Upper Chattahoochee River 
Applicant: Hall County Board of Commissioners 
Purpose: Water supply
Proposed Size: 850 acres (normal pool)
Estimated Safe Yield: 42.4 million gallons per day (MGD)
Estimated impacts to USACE Jurisdiction: 39.2 acres of wetlands / 95,000 linear feet of waters of the United States
Proposed Compensatory Mitigation: Combination commercial mitigation bank credits and in-lieu-fee
Application received: June 10, 2011 (revised application)
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS): In progress
EIS Cooperating Agencies:

  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources (Environmental Protection Division)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Contact Us

Savannah District Regulatory Division
800-448-2402
CESAS-RD@usace.army.mil