Discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S.
(a) Applicable laws. Section 404 of the CWA governs the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S. Although the Corps does not process and issue permits for its own activities, the Corps authorizes its own discharges of dredged or fill material by applying all applicable substantive legal requirements, including public notice, opportunity for public hearing, and application of the section 404(b)(1) guidelines.
(1) The CWA requires the Corps to seek state water quality certification for discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S.
(2) Section 307 of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) requires that certain activities that a Federal agency conducts or supports be consistent with the Federally-approved state management plan to the maximum extent practicable.
(b) Procedures. If changes in a previously approved disposal plan for a Corps navigation project warrant re-evaluation under the CWA, the following procedures should be followed by district enginers prior to discharging dredged material into waters of the U.S. except where emergency action as described in § 337.7 of this chapter is required.
(1) A public notice providing opportunity for a public hearing should be issued at the earliest practicable time. The public notification procedures of § 337.1 of this chapter should be followed.
(2) The public hearing procedures of 33 CFR part 327 should be followed.
(3) As soon as practicable, the district engineer will request from the state a 401 water quality certification and, if applicable, provide a coastal zone consistency determination for the Corps activity using the procedures of § 336.1(b) (8) and (9), respectively, of this part.
(4) Discharges of dredged material will be evaluated using the guidelines authorized under section 404(b)(1) of the CWA, or using the ODA regulations, where appropriate. If the guidelines alone would prohibit the designation of a proposed discharge site, the economic impact on navigation and anchorage of the failure to use the proposed discharge site will also be considered in evaluating whether the proposed discharge is to be authorized under CWA section 404(b)(2).
(5) The EPA Administrator can prohibit or restrict the use of any defined area as a discharge site under 404(c) whenever he determines, after notice and opportunity for public hearing and after consultation with the Secretary of the Army, that the discharge of such materials into such areas will have an unacceptable adverse effect on municipal water supplies, shellfish beds and fishery areas, wildlife, or recreation areas. Upon notification of the prohibition of a discharge site by the Administrator the district engineer will complete the administrative processing of the proposed project up to the point of signing the Statement of Findings (SOF) or Record of Decision (ROD). The unsigned SOF or ROD along with a report described in § 337.8 of this chapter will be forwarded through the appropriate Division office to the Dredging Division, Office of the Chief of Engineers.
(6) In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality ( 40 CFR parts 1500-1508 ), an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or Environmental Assessment (EA) will be prepared for all Corps of Engineers projects involving the discharge of dredged or fill material, unless such projects are included within a categorical exclusion found at 33 CFR part 230 or addressed within an existing EA or EIS. If a proposed maintenance activity will result in a deviation in the operation and maintenance plan as described in the EA or EIS, the district engineer will determine the need to prepare a new EA, EIS, or supplement. If a new EA, EIS, or supplement is required, the procedures of 33 CFR part 230 will be followed.
(7) If it can be anticipated that related work by other Federal or non-Federal interests will occur in the same area as Corps projects, the district engineer should use all reasonable means to include it in the planning, processing, and review of Corps projects. Related work normally includes, but is not necessarily limited to, maintenance dredging of approach channels and berthing areas connected to Federal navigation channels. The district engineer should coordinate the related work with interested Federal, state, regional, and local agencies and the general public at the same time he does so for the Corps project. The district engineer should ensure that related work meets all substantive and procedural requirements of 33 CFR parts 320 through 330. Documents covering Corps maintenance activities normally should also include an appropriate discussion of ancillary maintenance work. District engineers should assist local interests to obtain from the state any necessary section 401 water quality certification and, if required, the section 307 coastal zone consistency concurrence. The absence of such certification or concurrence by the state or the denial of a Corps permit for related work shall not be cause for delay of the Federal project. Local sponsors will be responsible for funding any related work. If permitting of the related work complies with all legal requirements and is not contrary to the public interest, section 10, 404, and 103 permits normally will be issued by the district engineer in a separate SOF or ROD. Authorization by nationwide or regional general permit may be appropriate. If the related work does not receive a necessary state water quality certification and/or CZMA consistency concurrence, or are determined to be contrary to the public interest the district engineer should re-examine the project viability to ensure that continued maintenance is warranted.
(8) State water quality certification: Section 401 of the CWA requires the Corps to seek state water quality certification for dredged material disposal into waters of the U.S. The state certification request must be processed to a conclusion by the state within a reasonable period of time. Otherwise, the certification requirements of section 401 are deemed waived. The district engineer will request water quality certification from the state at the earliest practicable time using the following procedures:
(i) In addition to the Corps section 404 public notice, information and data demonstrating compliance with state water quality standards will be provided to the state water quality certifying agency along with the request for water quality certification. The information and data may be included within the 404(b)(1) evaluation. The district engineer will request water quality certification to be consistent with the maintenance dredging schedule for the project. Submission of the public notice, including information and data demonstrating compliance with the state water quality standards, will constitute a valid water quality certification request pursuant to section 401 of the CWA.
(ii) If the proposed disposal activity may violate state water quality standards, after consideration of disposal site dilution and dispersion, the district engineer will work with the state to acquire data to satisfy compliance with the state water quality standards. The district engineer will use the technical manual “Management Strategy for Disposal of Dredged Material: Contaminant Testing and Controls” or its appropriate updated version as a guide for developing the appropriate tests to be conducted on such dredged material.
(iii) If the state does not take final action on a request for water quality certification within two months from the date of the initial request, the district engineer will notify the state of his intention to presume a waiver as provided by section 401 of the CWA. If the state agency, within the two-month period, requests an extension of time, the district engineer may approve one 30-day extension unless, in his opinion, the magnitude and complexity of the information contained in the request warrants a longer or additional extension period. The total period of time in which the state must act should not exceed six months from the date of the initial request. Waiver of water quality certification can be conclusively presumed after six months from the date of the initial request.
(iv) The procedures of § 337.2 will be followed if the district engineer determines that the state data acquisition requirements exceed those necessary in establishment of the Federal standard.
(9) State coastal zone consistency: Section 307 of the CZMA requires that activities subject to the CZMA which a Federal agency conducts or supports be consistent with the Federally approved state management program to the maximum extent practicable. The state is provided a reasonable period of time as defined in § 336.1(b)(9)(iv) to take final action on Federal consistency determinations; otherwise state concurrence can be presumed. The district engineer will provide the state a consistency determination at the earliest practicable time using the following procedures:
(i) The Corps section 404 public notice and any additional information that the district engineer determines to be appropriate will be provided the state coastal zone management agency along with the consistency determination. The consistency determination will consider the maintenance dredging schedule for the project. Submission of the public notice and, as appropriate, any additional information as determined by the district engineer will constitute a valid coastal zone consistency determination pursuant to section 307 of the CZMA.
(ii) If the district engineer decides that a consistency determination is not required for a Corps activity, he may provide the state agency a written determination that the CZMA does not apply.
(iii) The district engineer may provide the state agency a general consistency determination for routine or repetitive activities.
(iv) If the state fails to provide a response within 45 days from receipt of the initial consistency determination, the district engineer will presume state agency concurrence. If the state agency, within the 45-day period, requests an extension of time, the district engineer will approve one 15-day extension unless, in his opinion, the magnitude and complexity of the information contained in the consistency determination warrants a longer or additional extension period. The longer or additional extension period shall not exceed six months from the date of the initial consistency determination.
(v) If the district engineer determines that the state recommendations to achieve consistency to the maximum degree practicable exceed either his authority or funding for a proposed dredging or disposal activity, he will so notify the state coastal zone management agency indicating that the Corps has complied to the maximum extent practicable with the state's coastal zone management program. If the district engineer determines that state recommendations to achieve consistency to the maximum degree practicable do not exceed his authority or funding but, nonetheless, are excessive, he will follow the procedures of § 337.2.
(c) Evaluation factors. The following factors will be used, as appropriate, to evaluate the discharge of dredged material into waters of the U.S. Other relevant factors may also be evaluated, as needed.
(1) Navigation and Federal standard. The maintenance of a reliable Federal navigation system is essential to the economic well-being and national defense of the country. The district engineer will give full consideration to the impact of the failure to maintain navigation channels on the national and, as appropriate, regional economy. It is the Corps' policy to regulate the discharge of dredged material from its projects to assure that dredged material disposal occurs in the least costly, environmentally acceptable manner, consistent with engineering requirements established for the project. The environmental assessment or environmental impact statement, in conjunction with the section 404(b)(1) guidelines and public notice coordination process, can be used as a guide in formulating environmentally acceptable alternatives. The least costly alternative, consistent with sound engineering practices and selected through the 404(b)(1) guidelines or ocean disposal criteria, will be designated the Federal standard for the proposed project.
(2) Water quality. The 404(b)(1) guidelines at 40 CFR part 230 and ocean dumping criteria at 40 CFR part 220 implement the environmental protection provisions of the CWA and ODA, respectively. These guidelines and criteria provide general regulatory guidance and objectives, but not a specific technical framework for evaluating or managing contaminated sediment that must be dredged. Through the section 404(b)(1) evaluation process (or ocean disposal criteria for the territorial sea), the district engineer will evaluate the water quality impacts of the proposed project. The evaluation will include consideration of state water quality standards. If the district engineer determines the dredged material to be contaminated, he will follow the guidance provided in the most current published version of the technical manual for contaminant testing and controls. This manual is currently cited as: Francingues, N.R., Jr., et al. 1985. “Management Strategy for Disposal of Dredged Material: Contaminant Testing and Controls,” Miscellaneous Paper D-85-1, U.S. Army Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, Mississippi. The procedures of § 336.1(b)(8) will be followed for state water quality certification requests.
(3) Coastal zone consistency. As appropriate, the district engineer will determine whether the proposed project is consistent with the state coastal zone management program to the maximum extent practicable. The procedures of § 336.1(b)(9) will be followed for coastal zone consistency determinations.
(4) Wetlands. Most wetland areas constitute a productive and valuable public resource, the unnecessary alteration or destruction of which should be discouraged as contrary to the public interest. The district engineer will, therefore, follow the guidance in 33 CFR 320.4(b) and EO 11990, dated May 24, 1977, when evaluating Corps operations and maintenance activities in wetlands.
(5) Endangered species. All Corps operations and maintenance activities will be reviewed for the potential impact on threatened or endangered species, pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973. If the district engineer determines that the proposed activity will not affect listed species or their critical habitat, a statement to this effect should be included in the public notice. If the proposed activity may affect listed species or their critical habitat, appropriate discussions will be initiated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or National Marine Fisheries Service, and a statement to this effect should be included in the public notice. (See 50 CFR part 402 ).
(6) Historic resources. Archeological, historical, or architectural resource surveys may be required to locate and identify previously unrecorded historic properties in navigation channels and at dredged or fill material disposal sites. If properties that may be historic are known or found to exist within the navigation channel or proposed disposal area, field testing and analysis may sometimes be necessary in order to evaluate the properties against the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places. Such testing should be limited to the amount and kind needed to determine eligibility for the National Register; more detailed and extensive work on a property may be prescribed later, as the outcome of review under section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. Historic properties are not normally found in previously constructed navigation channels or previously used disposal areas. Therefore, surveys to identify historic properties should not be conducted for maintenance dredging and disposal activities proposed within the boundaries of previously constructed navigation channels or previously used disposal areas unless there is good reason to believe that historic properties exist there.
(i) The district engineer will establish whether historic properties located in navigation channels or at disposal sites are eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places in accordance with applicable regulations of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the Department of the Interior.
(ii) The district engineer will take into account the effects of any proposed actions on properties included in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, and will request the comments of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, in accordance with applicable regulations of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
(7) Scenic and recreational values.(i) Maintenance dredging and disposal activities may involve areas which possess recognized scenic, recreational, or similar values. Full evaluation requires that due consideration be given to the effect which dredging and disposal of the dredged or fill material may have on the enhancement, preservation, or development of such values. Recognition of these values is often reflected by state, regional, or local land use classification or by similar Federal controls or policies. Operations and maintenance activities should, insofar as possible, be consistent with and avoid adverse effects on the values or purposes for which such resources have been recognized or set aside, and for which those classifications, controls, or policies were established. Special consideration must be given to rivers named in section 3 of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and those proposed for inclusion as provided by section 4 and 5 of the Act, or by later legislation.
(ii) Any other areas named in Acts of Congress or Presidential Proclamations, such as National Rivers, National Wilderness Areas, National Seashores, National Parks, and National Monuments, should be given full consideration when evaluating Corps operations and maintenance activities.
(8) Fish and wildlife.(i) In those cases where the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (FWCA) applies, district engineers will consult, through the public notification process, with the Regional Directors of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service and the head of the agency responsible for fish and wildlife for the state in which the work is to be performed, with a view to the conservation of fish and wildlife resources by considering ways to prevent their direct and indirect loss and damage due to the proposed operation and maintenance activity. The district engineer will give full consideration to these views on fish and wildlife conservation in evaluating the activity. The proposed operations may be modified in order to lessen the damage to such resources. The district engineer should include such justifiable means and measures for fish and wildlife resources that are found to be appropriate. Corps funding of Fish and Wildlife Service activities under the Transfer of Funds Agreement between the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Corps is not applicable for Corps operation and maintenance projects.
(ii) District engineers should consider ways of reducing unavoidable adverse environmental impacts of dredging and disposal activities. The determination as to the extent of implementation of such measures will be done by the district engineer after weighing the benefits and detriments of the maintenance work and considering applicable environmental laws, regulations, and other relevant factors.
(9) Marine sanctuaries. Operations and maintenance activities involving the discharge of dredged or fill material in a marine sanctuary established by the Secretary of Commerce under authority of section 302 of the ODA should be evaluated for the impact on the marine sanctuary. In such a case, certification should be obtained from the Secretary of Commerce that the proposed project is consistent with the purposes of Title III of the ODA and can be carried out within the regulations promulgated by the Secretary of Commerce to control activities within the marine sanctuary.
(10) Other state requirements. District engineers will make all reasonable efforts to comply with state water quality standards and Federally approved coastal zone programs using the procedures of §§ 336.1(b) (8), (9), and 337.2. District engineers should not seek state permits or licenses unless authorized to do so by a clear, explicit, and unambiguous Congressional waiver of Federal sovereign immunity, giving the state authority to impose that requirement on Federal activities (e.g., CWA sections 401 and 404(t), and CZMA section 307 (c)(1) and (c)(2) ).
(11) Additional factors. In addition to the factors described in paragraphs (c)(1) through (9) of this section, the following factors should also be considered.
(i) The evaluation of Corps operations and maintenance activities involving the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S. is a continuing process and should proceed concurrently with the processing of state water quality certification and, if required, the provision of a coastal zone consistency determination to the state. If a local agency having jurisdiction over or concern with the particular activity comments on the project through the public notice coordination, due consideration should be given to those official views as a reflection of local factors.
(ii) Where officially adopted state, regional, or local land use classifications, determinations, or policies are applicable, they normally will be presumed to reflect local views and will be considered in addition to other national factors.
Title 33 published on 2012-07-01
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