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United States Regulations

Title 33: Navigation and Navigable Waters



Authority: 33 U.S.C. 1344; 33 U.S.C. 1413.

Source: 53 FR 14916, Apr. 26, 1988, unless otherwise noted.

§ 337.0 Purpose.
The practices and procedures part of this regulation apply to all Corps operations and maintenance activities involving the discharge of dredged or fill material in waters of the U.S. and ocean waters and related activities of local interests accomplished to ensure continued functions of constructed Corps projects.

§ 337.1 Public notice.
Presently, public notification of proposed discharges of dredged or fill material is required by the provisions of section 103 of the ODA and sections 401 and 404 of the CWA. District engineers are encouraged to develop procedures to avoid unnecessary duplication of state agency procedures. Joint public notification procedures should be a primary factor in the development of Memoranda of Agreement with the states as described in §337.4.

(a) With the possible exception of emergency actions as discussed in §337.7, the district engineer should issue a public notice for projects involving the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S. or ocean waters unless the project is authorized by a general permit. Public notices for Corps operation and maintenance activities are normally issued for an indefinite period of time and are not reissued unless changes in the disposal plan warrant re-evaluation under section 404 of the CWA or section 103 of the ODA. The public notice is the primary method of advising all interested parties of Federal projects and of soliciting comments and information necessary to evaluate the probable impact of the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S. or ocean waters. The notice should, therefore, include sufficient information to provide a clear understanding of the nature of the activity and related activities of local interests in order to generate meaningful comments. A single public notice may be used for more than one project in appropriate cases. The notice normally should include the following items:

(1) The name and location of the project and proposed disposal site.

(2) A general description of the project and a description of the estimated type, composition, and quantity of materials to be discharged, the proposed time schedule for the dredging activity, and the types of equipment and methods of dredging and conveyance proposed to be used.

(3) A sketch showing the location of the project, including depth of water in the area and all proposed discharge sites.

(4) The nature, estimated amount, and frequency of known and anticipated related dredging and discharge to be conducted by others.

(5) A list of Federal, state, and local environmental agencies with whom the activity is being coordinated.

(6) A statement concerning a preliminary determination of the need for and/or availability of an environmental impact statement.

(7) Any other available information which may assist interested parties in evaluating the likely impact of the proposed activity, if any.

(8) A reasonable period of time, normally thirty days but not less than fifteen days from date of mailing except in emergency situations where the procedures of §337.7 will be followed, within which interested parties may express their views concerning the proposed project.

(9) If the proposed Federal project would occur in the territorial seas or ocean waters, a description of the project's relationship to the baseline from which the territorial sea is measured.

(10) A statement on the status of state water quality certification under section 401 of the CWA.

(11) For activities requiring a determination of consistency with an approved state coastal zone management plan, the following information will be included in the notice:

(i) A statement on whether or not the proposed activity will be undertaken in a manner consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the state management program.

(ii) Sufficient information to support the consistency determination to include associated facilities and their coastal zone effect.

(iii) Data and supporting information commensurate with the expected effects of the activity on the coastal zone.

(12) A statement on historic resources, state of present knowledge, likelihood of damage or other adverse effect on such resources, etc.

(13) A statement on endangered species.

(14) A statement on evaluation factors to be considered, adapted from that presented at 33 CFR 325.3(b).

(15) The name, address, and telephone number of the Corps employee from whom additional information concerning the project may be obtained.

(16) The signature of the district engineer or his designee on all maintenance dredged material disposal public notices.

(17) For activities regulated under section 103 of the ODA, the following additional information should be integrated into the public notice:

(i) A statement on the designation status of the disposal site.

(ii) If the proposed disposal site is not a designated site, a description of the characteristics of the proposed disposal site and an explanation as to why no previously designated disposal site is feasible.

(iii) A brief description of known dredged material discharges at the proposed disposal site.

(iv) Existence and documented effects of other authorized disposals that have been made at the disposal area.

(v) An estimated length of time during which disposal would continue at the proposed site.

(vi) Information on the characteristics and composition of the dredged material, and the following paragraph:

The proposed transportation of this dredged material for disposing of it in ocean waters is being evaluated to determine that the proposed disposal will not unreasonably degrade or endanger human health, welfare, or amenities or the marine environment, ecological systems, or economic potentialities. In making this determination, the criteria established by the Administrator, EPA pursuant to section 102(a) of the ODA, will be applied. In addition, based upon an evaluation of the potential effect which the failure to utilize this ocean disposal site will have on navigation, economic and industrial development, and foreign and domestic commerce of the United States, an independent determination will be made of the need to dispose of the dredged material in ocean waters, other possible methods of disposal, and other appropriate locations.

(b) The following statement should be included in the public notices:

Any person who has an interest which may be affected by the disposal of this dredged material may request a public hearing. The request must be submitted in writing to the district engineer within the comment period of this notice and must clearly set forth the interest which may be affected and the manner in which the interest may be affected by this activity.

(c) Public notices should be distributed as described in 33 CFR 325.3(c). In addition, public notices should be sent to CECW-D, Office of the Chief of Engineers, Washington, DC 20314, if the project involves the discharge of dredged material in waters of the U.S. or ocean waters. District engineers should also develop, as appropriate, regional mailing lists for Corps maintenance dredging and disposal activities to the extent that property owners adjacent to the navigation channel and disposal area are notified of the proposed activity. In order to effect compliance with Executive Order 12372, district engineers should provide copies of public notices to concerned state and local elected officials.

(d) The district engineer should consider all comments received in response to the public notice in his subsequent actions. All comments expressing objections to or raising questions about the project should be acknowledged. Comments received as form letters or petitions, however, may be acknowledged as a group to the person or organization responsible for the form letter or petition. If comments are received which relate to matters within the special expertise of another agency, the district engineer may seek the advice of that agency. The receipt of comments as a result of the public notice normally should not extend beyond the stated comment period; however, at his discretion, the district engineer may provide an extension.

(e) Notices sent to several agencies within the same state may result in conflicting comments from those agencies. Many states have designated a state agency or individual to provide a single and coordinated state position regarding Federal activities. Where a state has not so designated a single source, the district engineer, as appropriate, may seek from the Governor an expression of his views and desires concerning the proposed and subsequent similar projects.

(f) All comments received from the public notice coordination should be considered in the public interest review process. Comments received from Federal or state agencies which are within the area of expertise of another agency will be communicated with that other agency if the district engineer needs the information to make a final determination on the proposed project.

§ 337.2 State requirements.
The procedures of this section should be followed in implementing state requirements.

(a) District engineers should cooperate to the maximum extent practicable with state agencies to prevent violation of Federally approved state water quality standards and to achieve consistency to the maximum degree practicable with an approved coastal zone management program.

(b) If the state agency imposes conditions or requirements which exceed those needed to meet the Federal standard, the district engineer should determine and consider the state's rationale and provide to the state information addressing why the alternative which represents the Federal standard is environmentally acceptable. The district engineer will accommodate the state's concerns to the extent practicable. However, if a state agency attempts to impose conditions or controls which, in the district engineers opinion, cannot reasonably be accommodated, the following procedures will be followed.

(1) In situations where an agency requires monitoring or testing, the district engineer will strive to reach an agreement with the agency on a data acquisition program. 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. If the agency insists on requirements which, in the opinion of the district engineer, exceed those required in establishment of the Federal standard, the agency will be asked to fund the difference in cost. If the agency agrees to fund the difference in cost, the district engineer will comply with the request. If the agency does not fund the additional cost, the district engineer will follow the guidance in paragraph (b) (3) of this section.

(2) When an agency requires special conditions or implementation of an alternative which the Federal standard does not, district engineers will proceed as follows: In those cases where the project authorization requires a local sponsor to provide suitable disposal areas, disposal areas must be made available by a sponsor before dredging proceeds. In other cases where there are no local sponsor requirements to provide disposal areas, the state or the prospective local sponsor will be advised that, unless the state or the sponsor provides suitable disposal areas, the added Federal cost of providing these disposal areas will affect the priority of performing dredging on that project. In either case, states will be made aware that additional costs to meet state standards or the requirements of the coastal zone management program which exceed those necessary in establishment of the Federal standard may cause the project to become economically unjustified.

(3) If the state denies or notifies the district engineer of its intent to deny water quality certification or does not concur regarding coastal zone consistency, the project dredging may be deferred. A report pursuant to §337.8 of this section will be forwarded to CECW-D, Office of the Chief of Engineers, Washington, DC 20314–1000 for resolution.

§ 337.3 Transfer of the section 404 program to the states.
Section 404(g–1) of the CWA allows the Administrator of the EPA to transfer to qualified states administration of the section 404 permit program for discharges into certain waters of the U.S. Once a state's 404 program is approved, the district engineer will follow state procedures developed in accordance with section 404(g–1) of the CWA for all on-going Corps projects involving the discharge of fill material in transferred waters to the state agency responsible for administering the program. Corps projects involving the discharge of dredged or fill material in waters not transferred to the state will be processed in accordance with this regulation.

§ 337.4 Memoranda of Agreement (MOA).
The establishment of joint notification procedures for Corps projects involving disposal of dredged or fill material should be actively pursued through the development of MOAs with the state. The MOAs may be used to define responsibilities between the state and the Corps district involved. The primary purpose of MOAs will be to avoid or eliminate administrative duplication, when such duplication does not contribute to the overall decision-making process. MOAs for purposes of this regulation will not be used to implement provisions not related to the maintenance or enforcement of Federally-approved state water quality standards or coastal zone management programs. District engineers are authorized and encouraged to develop MOAs with states and other Federal agencies for Corps projects involving the discharge of dredged or fill material. Copies of all MOAs will be forwarded to CECW-D, Office of the Chief of Engineers, Washington, DC 20314–1000 for approval.

§ 337.5 General authorizations.
Under the provisions of sections 404(e) of the CWA and 104(c) of the ODA certain categories of activities may be authorized on a regional, statewide, or nationwide basis. General authorizations can be a useful mechanism for implementation of the procedural provisions of the CWA, CZMA, and ODA while avoiding unnecessary duplication and paperwork. Through the general authorization process, compliance with all environmental laws and regulations including coastal zone consistency, if applicable, and water quality certification can be accomplished in a single process for a category of activities. Since the emphasis of particular environmental issues for most Corps projects is more regional than nationwide, district engineers are encouraged to develop general authorizations for routine Civil Works activities involving the discharge of dredged or fill material to address the specific requirements of a particular geographic region. When evaluating general categories of activities, the district engineer should follow the same procedure as outlined for individual Federal activities including the water quality certification and/or coastal zone consistency requirements of part 336 of this chapter. General authorizations should include related activities of local interests. Additionally, district engineers should use existing general permits authorized on a statewide or regional basis and the nationwide permits at 33 CFR part 330 for Federal projects involving the disposal of dredged material. The development of new statewide or regional general authorizations for Federal activities should be in accordance with the requirements of §§336.1 and 336.2 of this chapter. General permits for related activities of local interests should be developed using the procedures of 33 CFR parts 320 through 330.

§ 337.6 Statement of Findings (SOF).
Upon completion of the evaluation process including required coordination, receipt or waiver of required state certifications, and completion of the appropriate environmental documents, an SOF will be prepared. In cases involving an EIS, a ROD will be prepared in accordance with 33 CFR part 230 and should be used in lieu of the SOF, providing the substantive parts of this section are included in the ROD. The SOF need not duplicate information contained in supporting environmental documents but rather may incorporate it by reference. The SOF should include a comprehensive summary and record of compliance and should be prepared in the following format except that the procedures of 33 CFR 325.2 should be followed for related activities of local interests.

(a) The SOF should identify the name of the preparer, date (which may not necessarily correspond to the date signed), and name of waterway.

(b) The proposed action for which the findings are made should be described.

(c) A coordination section should be provided. The coordination section should reference the public notice number and date. The letters of comment and appropriate responses should be summarized. Any coordination undertaken by local or state agencies should also be discussed.

(d) An environmental effects and impacts section should be used to document compliance with the applicable environmental laws. This section should include the views and/or conditions of the state concerning water quality certification and, if required, the results of the coastal zone consistency process.

(e) A determinations section should reference the results of the EA and/or EIS and any conditions necessary to meet the state's water quality standards or coastal zone management program. Appropriate conditions or modifications should be included in the project specifications. This section should also contain a subsection on consideration of alternatives and cumulative impacts.

(f) A section on the district engineer's findings and conclusions concerning the proposed project should be included.

(g) The SOF should be dated and signed by the district engineer or his designee except in those cases requiring referral to higher authority.

(h) In accordance with the provisions of section 104(g) of the ODA, the district engineer will forward a copy of the SOF to the District Commander, U.S. Coast Guard, if the activity involves the ocean disposal of dredged material.

(i) The Findings of No Significant Impact or ROD, as appropriate, required by 33 CFR part 230 may be incorporated into the SOF, as appropriate.

§ 337.7 Emergency actions.
After obtaining approval from the division engineer, the district engineer will respond to emergency situations on an expedited basis, complying with the procedures of this regulation to the maximum degree practicable. The district engineer will issue a public notice describing the emergency in accordance with §337.1, if such a notice is practicable in view of the emergency situation; such a public notice should be forwarded to all appropriate Federal and state agencies. The district engineer should prepare a section 404(b)(1) evaluation report and, as necessary, an environmental assessment, if this is practicable in view of the emergency situation. If comments are received from the public notice which, in the judgment of the district engineer, reveal the necessity of modifying the emergency operation, the district engineer should take appropriate measures to modify the emergency operation to reduce, avoid, or minimize adverse environmental impacts. If the district engineer, after receiving comments from the public notice, determines that the emergency action would constitute a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment, he should, after consultation with the division engineer, coordinate with the Council on Environmental Quality about alternative arrangements for compliance with the NEPA in accordance with 40 CFR 1506.11 to the extent that it is practicable in view of the emergency situation. District engineers should consult with the appropriate state officials to seek water quality certification or waiver of certification, and should certify that the Federal action is consistent to the maximum extent practicable with an approved coastal zone management plan for emergency activities, to the extent that is practicable in view of the emergency.

§ 337.8 Reports to higher echelons.
(a) Certain activities involving the discharge of dredged or fill material require action by the division engineer or Chief of Engineers. Such reports should be prepared in the format described in paragraph (b) of this section. Reports may be necessary in the following situations:

(1) When there is substantial doubt as to the authority, law, regulations, or policies applicable to the Federal project;

(2) When higher authority requests the case be forwarded for decision;

(3) When the state does not concur in a coastal zone consistency determination or attempts to concur with conditions or controls;

(4) When the state denies or unreasonably delays a water quality certification or issues the certification with conditions or controls not related to maintenance or enforcement of state water quality standards or significantly exceeding the Federal standard;

(5) When the regional administrator has advised the district engineer, pursuant to section 404(c) of the CWA, of his intent to prohibit or restrict the use of a specified discharge site; or notifies the district engineer that the discharge of dredged material in ocean waters or territorial seas will not comply with the criteria and restrictions on the use of the site established under the ODA; and the district engineer determines that the proposed disposal cannot be reasonably modified to alleviate the regional administrator's objections; and

(6) When the state fails to grant water quality certification or a waiver of certification or concurrence or waiver of coastal zone consistency for emergency actions.

(b) Reports. The report of the district engineer on a project requiring action by higher authority should be in letter form and contain the following information:

(1) Justification showing the economic need for dredging.

(2) The impact on states outside the project area if the project is not dredged.

(3) The estimated cost of agency requirements which exceed those necessary in establishment of the Federal standard.

(4) The relative urgency of dredging based on threat to national security, life or property.

(5) Any other facts which will aid in determining whether to further defer the dredging and seek Congressional appropriations for the added expense or the need to exercise the authority of the Secretary of the Army to maintain navigation as provided by sections 511(a) and 404(t) of the CWA if the disagreement concerns water quality certification or other state permits.

(6) If the disagreement concerns coastal zone consistency, the district engineer will follow the reporting requirement of this section and §336.1(b)(9) of this chapter.

§ 337.9 Identification and use of disposal areas.
(a) District engineers should identify and develop dredged material disposal management strategies that satisfy the long-term (greater than 10 years) needs for Corps projects. Full consideration should be given to all practicable alternatives including upland, open water, beach nourishment, within banks disposal, ocean disposal, etc. Within existing policy, district engineers should also explore beneficial uses of dredged material, such as marsh establishment and dewatering techniques, in order to extend the useful life of existing disposal areas. Requests for water quality certification and/or coastal zone consistency concurrence for projects with identified long-term disposal sites should include the length of time for which the certification and/or consistency concurrence is sought. The section 404(b)(1) evaluation and environmental assessment or environmental impact statement should also address long-term maintenance dredging and disposal. District engineers should use the guidance at 40 CFR 230.80 to shorten environmental compliance processing time. The Corps of Engineers will be responsible for accomplishing or assuring environmental compliance requirements for all disposal areas. This does not preclude the adoption of other agencies NEPA documents in accordance with 40 CFR parts 1500 through 1508.

(b) The identification of disposal sites should include consideration of dredged material disposal needs by project beneficiaries. District engineers are encouraged to require local interests, where the project has a local sponsor, to designate long-term disposal areas.

§ 337.10 Supervision of Federal projects.
District engineers should assure that dredged or fill material disposal activities are conducted in conformance with current plans and description of the project as expressed in the SOF or ROD. Conditions and/or limitations required by a state (e.g., water quality certification), as identified through the coordination process, should be included in the project specifications. Contracting officers should assure that contractors are aware of their responsibilities for compliance with the terms and conditions of state certifications and other conditions expressed in the SOF or ROD.