A jurisdictional determination (JD) is the process of identifying and locating jurisdictional “Waters of the United States”, including wetlands, regulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (RHA). The Corps determines jurisdiction by documenting: connections of waters and wetlands to downstream navigable waters; interstate commerce connections; and adjacency of wetlands and waters to other waters. The Corps or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must approve any JD in order for it to be considered valid for CWA Section 404 purposes. NO OTHER Federal, State, or local agency or private entity has this authority. For RHA Section 10 purposes, the Corps is the sole authority to validate a JD.
Identifying the location and extent of jurisdictional waters on a parcel of land is essential to the planning process of a development project, whether that project is for the construction of a single family home, a residential subdivision, or a commercial development. By identifying and delineating jurisdictional waters early in the project planning process, developers and property owners can avoid or substantially reduce impacts to jurisdictional waters by carefully and selectively siting their infrastructure improvements and structures away from these sensitive areas. Such avoidance can also significantly reduce the amount of time necessary to obtain permits from the Corps.
Developers and property owners can request a JD from the Corps in writing. In order to meet current workload obligations and provide better service to the public, developers and property owners should obtain the services of an environmental consultant with experience in the identification and delineation of waters to evaluate the subject property and prepare all documentation associated with a JD request. The Corps, in general, will give higher priority to JD requests that accompany applications.
Please use the links below for further information about JDs, including the process for requesting a JD from the Corps.