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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Great Lakes and Ohio River Division
Published March 14, 2022
Updated: March 16, 2022

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers , Great Lakes and Ohio River Division  is seeking public comments; federal, state, and local agencies and officials; tribes; and other interested parties regarding the proposed Section 408 Categorical Permission.


Through the Civil Works program, the USACE serves the public by providing the Nation with quality and responsive management of the Nation’s water resources.  As a result, the USACE, in partnership with stakeholders, has constructed many Civil Works projects across the Nation’s landscape.  Given the widespread locations of these projects, many embedded within communities, over time there may be a need for others outside of USACE to alter or occupy these projects and their associated lands.  Reasons for alterations could include improvements to the projects; relocation of part of the project; or installing utilities or other non-project features.


To ensure that these projects continue to provide their intended benefits to the public, Congress mandated that any use or alteration of a Civil Works project by another party is subject to the approval of the USACE.  This requirement was established in Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, which has since been amended several times and is codified at 33 USC 408, also known as Section 408.


When a District within the LRD receives a request to alter a USACE project, the district follows a review process outlined by Engineering Circular 1165-2-220, Policy and Procedural Guidance for Processing Requests to Alter US Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Project Pursuant to 33 USC 408 (Attachment 1). To simplify the review process, EC 1165-2-220 states that USACE districts can develop categorical permissions to cover potential alterations that are similar in nature and that have similar impacts.


Districts within the LRD receive numerous Section 408 requests for minor alterations to USACE projects each year; a total of 129 requests were received in 2020 and 174 requests were received in 2021. The majority of these requests are for relatively minor alterations. Many of the project descriptions for proposed alterations are similar and the effects tend to be minor or negligible. However, the current review and approval process is time intensive and can take months. The need for the proposed action is to increase efficiencies in the review process of Section 408 requests for minor alterations to the USACE federal projects.


Districts within the LRD propose to implement a categorical permission to create efficiencies in the review process for Section 408 requests for minor alterations to USACE projects within the civil works boundaries LRD.


The proposed categorical permissions would encompass alterations including utility line activities, vertical drilling activities, developmental activities such as buildings, decorative features, access structures, landscaping activities, stormwater control features, temporary construction activities, and linear transport activities including roads, bridges, and trails. Also included are water-based activities, bank stabilization, removal of wrecks and obstructions, maintenance dredging, operations, maintenance and safety improvements, ecosystem enhancement activities, such as habitat improvement and research/monitoring devices. 

The geographic scope of the decision to be made is limited to USACE federal projects within the following states in LRD’s boundaries: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The decision does not apply to civil works projects within the following states in LRD’s boundary — Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Virginia — or to any other USACE Division.


To see the full public notice that contains the full list of proposed categorical permissions, visit


Public comments regarding the proposed Section 408 Categorical Permissions can be submitted until April 13, 2022. These comments will be used in the evaluation to potential impacts of the proposed action on important resources.


Written comments, referencing “Section 408 Categorical Permission” must be submitted by email to the office listed below on or before April 13, 2022.


Mr. Colin Smalley of the Chicago District is collecting the comments on behalf of LRD.



Mr. Colin Smalley
Kyler Davis

Release no. 22-002

Chick Lock

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