The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is mandated to regulate certain activities in all waterways and wetlands under the following sections of Federal law:
Section 9 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 requires authorization from the Secretary of the Army, acting through the Corps of Engineers, to construct any dam or dike in a navigable water of the United States. The construction of bridges and causeways requires permits under Section 9, but the authority to issue permits with respect bridges and causeways was transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard in 1966 when the U.S. Department of Transportation was created. However, Department of the Army authorization is required for the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States associated with dams, dikes, bridges, and causeways under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 requires authorization from the Secretary of the Army, acting through the Corps of Engineers, for any structure or work in or over any navigable water of the United States. Structures or work outside the limits defined for navigable waters of the United States require a Section 10 permit if the structure or work affects the course, location, or condition of the water body in a manner which will impact on its navigable capacity. The law applies to any dredging or disposal of dredged materials, excavation, filling, re-channelization, or any other modification of a navigable water of the United States, and applies to all structures, from the smallest floating dock to the largest commercial undertaking. It further includes, without limitation, any wharf, dolphin, weir, boom breakwater, jetty, groin, bank protection (e.g. riprap, revetment, bulkhead), mooring structures such as pilings, aerial or subaqueous power transmission lines, intake or outfall pipes, permanently moored floating vessel, tunnel, artificial canal, boat ramp, aids to navigation, and any other permanent, or semi-permanent obstacle or obstruction.
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act requires authorization from the Secretary of the Army, acting through the Corps of Engineers, for the discharge of dredged or fill material into all waters of the United States, including adjacent wetlands. Discharges of fill material generally include, without limitation: placement of fill that is necessary for the construction of any structure, or impoundment requiring rock, sand, dirt, or other material for its construction; site-development fills for recreational, industrial, commercial, residential, and other uses; causeways or road fills; dams and dikes; artificial islands; property protection or reclamation devices such as riprap, groins, seawalls, breakwaters, and revetments; beach nourishment; levees; fill for intake and outfall pipes and subaqueous utility lines; fill associated with the creation of ponds; and any other work involving the discharge of fill or dredged material. Discharges of dredged material includes the addition of dredged material to a specific discharge site located in waters of the United States, the runoff or overflow from contained land or water disposal area; and any addition, including redeposit other than incidental fallback, of dredged material, including excavated material, into waters of the United States which is incidental to any activity, including mechanized land clearing, ditching, channelization, or other excavation. A Corps permit is required whether the work is permanent or temporary. Examples of temporary discharges include dewatering of dredged material prior to final disposal, and temporary fills for access roadways, cofferdams, storage and work areas.