Obtain a Permit from the Corps of Engineers
Any person, firm, or agency (including federal, state, and local government agencies) planning to work in navigable waters of the United States, or dump or place dredged or fill material in waters of the United States should contact the Corps of Engineers Regulatory office in your area to obtain a permit. It is essential when you plan your project, you seek all practical attempts to AVOID or MINIMIZE impacts to wetlands or waters of the US, as required under the Clean Water Act. The permit process is not automatic.
Whether a permit will be issued, the requirements attached to the permit, and the type of permit issued, are all determined by the type of activity, the extent of the impacts, and the specific environment impacted. Even for minor, unavoidable impacts to waters, the Corps of Engineers will consider attaching mitigation requirements to the permit for compensating for any environmental impacts.
The Corps of Engineers issues either general or individual permits. Regulatory project managers will try to work with applicants to design their projects to make sure that any impacts to waters or wetlands are extremely minor, to best preserve our aquatic resources and to enable applicants to qualify for the general permit program. The general permit program, both through the Nationwide Permit and the Regional General Permit program, are reserved for only the most minor impacts to streams, wetlands and other waters.
Individual permits are generally reserved for projects with potential for substantial environmental impacts. These permits require a full public interest review, including public notices and coordination with involved agencies, interested parties and the general public. Another type of individual permit used for very minor impacts and in special circumstances is the Letter of Permission (LOP). However, through the general permit program, the applicant can realize substantial savings if the project can be scoped to meet the requirements of these types of permits.