On Jan. 6, 2017, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced revised and renewed nationwide permits (NWPs) 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. NWPs streamline the permitting process for qualifying projects and can significantly reduce the costs and time associated with obtaining project approval. The 2017 NWPs will take effect March 19, 2017.
The 2017 NWPs include a new nationwide permit for living shorelines. NWP 54 authorizes construction and maintenance of living shorelines for shore erosion control. The Corps of Engineers issued NWP 54 to offer landowners an alternative general permit authorization to the various types of bank stabilization activities authorized by NWP 13. Under the existing Corps permitting framework, living shorelines often require more time-consuming individual permits.
For a living shoreline project to qualify for permitting under NWP 54, certain conditions must be met. Living shorelines, for instance, must have a substantial biological component, either tidal or lacustrine fringe wetlands or oyster or mussel reef structures. NWP 54 does not authorize beach renourishment or land reclamation activities. In addition, discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including the construction of fill structures such as sills or breakwaters, must be the minimum necessary for the establishment and maintenance of the living shoreline.
Through the issuance of NWP 54, the Corps seeks to create an efficient mechanism to permit living shoreline at the federal level. Although project applicants will still need to comply with applicable state and local permitting requirements, the regulatory process should be a little easier moving forward.
More information about the 2017 NWPs is available on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website at: http://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Regulatory-Program-and-Permits/Nationwide-Permits/.