What you need to know about 2017 Nationwide Permit (NWP) Updates

On January 6, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) reissued more than 50 existing nationwide permits (NWP), 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. These will replace existing 2012 permits which expire on March 18, 2017 with new permits taking effect on March 19.

The Corps updates and reauthorizes the NWPs every five years to ensure protection of the nation’s water resources. They are an important tool to avoid and minimize impacts to wetlands, streams and other aquatic resources while providing a more streamlined and predictable permitting process.

The NWPs have been published in the Federal Registrar (Volume 82, No. 4) and posted to the USACE website. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) issued its draft of the new Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) of the new NWPs and solicited comments from the public. The OEPA intends to have the WQC for NWP’s in place prior to March 19. The draft 401 WQC and associated materials can be accessed here along with details on the public comment period.  We recommend carefully reviewing the OEPA proposal because it establishes new requirements based on watersheds to determine whether certain NWP’s are available. In order to determine eligibility under the 401 WQC for the Nationwide Permits for stream impacts, applicants should use the Stream Eligibility Web Map.

There are few changes since NWPs were last modified in 2012.  Below are few noteworthy highlights of the new NWPs:

• USACE reissued 50 existing permits and added two new ones.
• NWP 53 – This new NWP covers the removal of low-head dams. The removal of these dams will restore rivers and streams, and will improve public safety by removing dams that can pose hazards to swimmers and to users of small recreational craft.
• NWP 54 – This new NWP covers the construction and maintenance of living shorelines, a technique to protect coastal property from erosion while providing some aquatic habitat and water quality benefits.

Stream + Wetlands Foundation (S+W) has mitigation bank and in-lieu fee program credits available to fulfill the compensatory mitigation needs. Additionally, S+W is available to assist you and your organization as you review the new requirements of the 2017 NWPs. Feel free to contact Vince Messerly to further discuss the language and ramifications of these new permits