The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District’s regulatory program is dedicated to providing strong protection to the nation’s aquatic environment including wetlands and navigation, while allowing for reasonable development through fair and balanced decisions.
On May 25, 2021, Louisville District Commander Col. Eric Crispino, headed to Southwest Indiana with regulatory personnel to see first-hand how the district’s regulatory program serves the nation.
The Regulatory Division, composed of 31 personnel, spread across the district headquarters and three field sites in Indiana and Kentucky, is responsible for administering the regulatory program in the majority of Indiana and Kentucky, the southeastern portion of Illinois, and the Ohio River to southwestern Ohio.
Crispino sat down with field staff at the Newburgh Regulatory Office in Newburgh, Indiana, to discuss mitigation efforts and permitting and compliance issues.
“It’s an amazing mission we have in the Corps of Engineers,” said Crispino. “I really like to hear about what you all do.”
The Department of the Army Regulatory Program is one of the oldest in the Federal Government. Initially it served a simple, straightforward purpose: to protect and maintain the navigable capacity of the nation's waters. Time, changing public needs, evolving policy, case law, and new statutory mandates have changed the complexion of the program, adding to its breadth, complexity and authority.
The Regulatory Division evaluates permit applications for essentially all work that occurs in “waters of the United States” that are regulated by the Corps pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Some examples of areas that may be within the jurisdiction of the Corps include marshes, swamps, streams, creeks, rivers, ponds, lakes, seasonally saturated forested and non-forested wetlands.
Additionally, USACE monitors for compliance on issued permits and mitigation sites and initiates enforcement actions for violations of the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act.
“When violations occur, and when they are repeated, we act on them,” said Mike Ricketts, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District Regulatory Division Chief, “Our staff go out and investigate those impacts.”
Monitoring those sites proves a heavy workload for the six staff in the Newburgh Regulatory Office, who are responsible for 72 counties across three states.
“It’s a challenge. It’s a lot coming at us in this office,” said Jarrod Bonnick, regulatory project manager.
“But this work is important work to make sure we’re getting our aquatic resources back. We try to do the right thing by getting our resources back. That’s the mission.”
While on-site, the commander recognized Tre Barron, George Delancey, Sam Werner, and Jarrod Bonnick for their efforts.
“I am extremely proud of all of our regulatory personnel. They are so patient with the everchanging program and challenging budget along with the always present demanding workload,” said Ricketts. “Regardless of these challenges, they continue to deliver. They fulfill Regulatory’s mission statement.”
The commander and staff also toured a local mitigation site and participated in a pre-application meeting for a proposed permit near Elberfeld, Indiana.
“Col. Crispino has a very good understanding of the regulatory program, but to see the resources in person and how the program is applied, brings a greater meaning and understanding,” said Ricketts. “It’s like the saying, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.’”
“We are thankful for the opportunity to show him some of our area of responsibility and look forward to introducing other areas.”