2003-10-03 / Community

Advisory Issued For Storm Damage Repairs

Advisory Issued For Storm Damage Repairs

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has recently issued an advisory to inform property owners of the permits required for storm damage repairs.

USACE has federal jurisdiction over activities that include dredging or construction in or over any navigable waters of the United States, certain excavation activities within, and the placement of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States (including wetlands), or the accomplishment of work affecting the course, location, condition or capacity of such areas. Such activities may require a Department of the Army permit, in accordance with Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 320-330.

Section 404 of the Clean Water Act specifies that some discharges of fill material associated with the reconstruction of recently damaged parts of currently serviceable structures (such as dikes, dams, groins, ripraps, breakwaters, causeways, and bridge abutments) may be exempt from USACE regulations. This exemption does not include any modification that changes the character, scope or size the original fill design.

In addition, USACE authorization may be required if the work would take place in navigable water of the United States. Emergency reconstruction must occur within a reasonable period of time after damage has occurred in order to qualify for this exemption. You are advised to contact the USACE office to determine if your proposed activity falls under this exemption.

It is anticipated that nationwide permits (NWP) could authorize most storm damage repairs. NWP is a form of permit, which authorizes a category of activities throughout the nation. Nationwide permits are designed to allow work in these categories to occur with little, if any, delay or paperwork. However, the nationwide permits are valid only if the conditions applicable to the nationwide permits are met.

Just because a condition cannot be met does not necessarily mean that the activity cannot be authorized, but rather that a formal application will have to be made to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for authorization by an individual permit. The nationwide permits apply only to Department of the Army regulatory programs. Other federal, state or local authorization(s) may be required for an activity. It is imperative that the conditions and the management practices be followed explicitly.

Most common repair, rehabilitation activities can be authorized by NWP Number 3. This NWP authorizes the repair, rehabilitation or replacement of any previously authorized structure or fill material, including excavation, into all waters of the United States to remove accumulated sediments and debris within existing structures (i.e. bridges, culverted road crossings, water intake structures, etc.) and within 200 feet in any direction from the structure, provided the removal is limited in the minimum necessary to restore the waterway in the immediate vicinity of the structure to the approximate dimensions that existed when the structure was built; the placement of rip rap within waters of the United States that is used for the direct purpose of protecting or ensuring the safety of the structure, provided it is the minimum necessary to fulfill its purpose; and the discharge of dredged or fill material, including excavation, into all waters of the United States for activities associated with the restoration of upland areas damaged by a storm, flood, or other discrete event, including the construction, placement or installation of upland protection structures and minor dredging to remove obstruction s in waters of the United States.

Authorization by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers NWP does not obviate the need for state or local permits, as required by law. It is recommended that you check your regional office of the NYSDEC and your local county, town, and/or city for their permit requirements.

In cases where the proposed work does not meet the requirements of NWP and there is a situation which would result in an unacceptable hazard to life, a significant loss of property, or an immediate, unforeseen, and significant economic hardship, USACE will process the application for a permit under emergency procedures stated in Title 33 of the Code of Federal regulations, Part 325 2(e)(4). You are required to contact the USACE District office if you feel your activity qualifies for the emergency procedures.

For more information on the New York District Corps of Engineers programs, visit their website at www.nan. usace.army.mil. You can also call George Halford in their public affairs office at 202-761-0011.

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