The Regulatory Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District is refining its process to emphasize review of Department of the Army (DA) permit applications and requests associated with pending DA permit applications beginning April 22, 2022.
As of today, requests not associated with a DA permit application, including standalone jurisdictional determinations (JDs) and delineation concurrences (DCs), will still be accepted, but the review and processing of such standalone requests will be based on available resources, resulting in extended timelines for processing. Additionally, in-house wetland delineations conducted by the Corps will generally only be performed for small tracts (i.e., one acre or less) on a case-by-case basis and as time allows.
Over the next several months, Regulatory Division staff will strive to complete all standalone JD and DC requests submitted prior to April 22, 2022, provided that the requests have sufficient documentation.
The process refinement will enable the Regulatory Division to direct greater resource emphasis toward its fundamental mission of regulating activities in the nation’s waters and wetlands and provide the public with more efficient, timely service in the review of DA permit applications. This refinement effort will also allow for the support of an anticipated increase in program volume from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act so that communities can more quickly benefit from these investments.
Due to state’s geography, coupled with an increase in development activity across the state, the Regulatory Division has seen a significant increase in the number of requests for JDs and DCs. In fiscal year 2021, the Regulatory Division processed 1,800 standalone JD requests, 2.5 times more than the national average. Currently, staff is reviewing over 600 pending standalone JD requests, and on average, project managers have 45-55 pending standalone JD requests at any given time in their workload.
Preliminary and approved JDs, DCs and other documentation verified by the Regulatory Division are not prerequisites for submitting a DA permit application. These approvals and verifications are also not intended to be prerequisites for development approvals by state and local government(s).
The Regulatory Division understands that the increasing mandates by state and local government entities to require Corps-verified delineations and/or JDs for activities unrelated to DA permit applications are ultimately delaying the Regulatory Division’s ability to provide the most efficient and timely reviews of DA permit applications. The Regulatory Division will continue to work with these entities to further inform them of the Corps’ position on the unintended consequences of their requirements.
The Regulatory Division strongly encourages the public to leverage the state’s robust community of environmental consultants. Regulatory project managers consult the 1987 Army Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual and appropriate regional supplement(s) to delineate wetlands and waters for federal jurisdiction. When a DA permit application is not immediately required, private-sector environmental consultants who properly rely upon and apply this guidance are generally equipped to provide accurate and expeditious delineations. In many cases, in the absence of a DA permit application, the services of private sector environmental consultants may be sufficient for independent state or local government requirements.
“Our Regulatory Division is made up of some of the state’s best biologists. We are committed to preserving the nation’s aquatic resources, while also facilitating the economic development that helps communities flourish while providing the highest caliber of customer service,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Johannes, District Commander.
For more, please visit www.sac.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Process-Refinement.