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Regulatory Program - Kentucky

Published Jan. 17, 2024
Updated: Feb. 1, 2024

The Regulatory Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Louisville District serves as the lead District responsible for administering the Regulatory Program in the majority of Kentucky along with the Nashville, Huntington, and Memphis Districts. To find the appropriate District based on the location of your project or issue, click here.

The Regulatory Division evaluates permit applications for essentially all work that occurs in “waters of the United States” that are regulated by USACE 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 USACE include marshes, swamps, streams, creeks, rivers, ponds, lakes, seasonally saturated forested and non-forested wetlands. 

All regulated activities occurring within jurisdictional waters require a permit from USACE. Some example activities occurring within jurisdictional areas that require a permit include dredging of waterways, bank stabilization, recreational ponds and lakes, as well as the construction of piers, docks, marinas, fleeting areas, boat ramps, roads, residential and commercial developments, utility lines and mining activities.

In order to determine whether your proposed activity requires a permit, or whether any “waters of the U.S.” are located on your property or within your project area, please explore our website or contact us for further guidance. Please note that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will make the final determination of whether an area is a jurisdictional “water of the U.S.” and whether the activity requires a permit.

We are dedicated to providing strong protection of the Nation’s aquatic environment, including wetlands, to enhance the efficiency of USACE's administration of its regulatory program, and to ensuring that USACE provides the regulated public with fair and reasonable decisions.

Please note that early coordination makes the process easier for you! By contacting the Corps of Engineers early in your planning, we can help guide you and understand your project’s needs and identify potential challenges. This will help us to work towards the appropriate authorization in as timely a manner as possible. Pre-application meetings are encouraged, particularly for larger projects.


A permit is required for activities that would include the discharge of dredged and/or fill material below the Ordinary High Water elevation of any "waters of the United States (U.S.)" or any wetlands pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. "Waters of the U.S." include all waters which are currently used, were used in the past, or may be susceptible to use in interstate or foreign commerce. For more information, see the Jurisdictional Waters Tab below.

A permit is also required for any work performed in or in the immediate vicinity of a Section 10 Navigable Water pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 in consideration of potential impacts to navigation.

Activities not requiring permits can be found here (40 CFR 232.3):

One step Removal Guidance

One step removal requires that the sediment and debris must be removed and immediately placed landward sufficiently enough to prevent the runoff water from the dredged material from re-entering the stream and that no additional dredged and/or fill material is placed below the ordinary high water mark of the stream or in wetlands.  We recommend, however, that good management and conservation practices be used.  For example:

a. The dredged (excavated) material should be placed sufficiently landward in a contained manner and immediately stabilized by spreading and seeding;
b. Straw or hay bale barriers or other approved berming methods for controlling and containing sediment should be used if the dredged material is discharged within close proximity to any "waters of the United States;"
c. The removal of vegetation should be limited to the removal of snags, loose debris and live vegetation which obviously obstructs stream flow;
d. All work, including the removal of vegetation, should be performed from one side of the channel leaving one side undisturbed; and
e. The side casting of dredged material into wetlands adjacent to the stream is not allowed under one step removal and would require authorization before the work is done.



Information about Jurisdictional Waters can be found here.

If you are unsure if your property contains jurisdictional waters, contact the appropriate District based on the location of your project or issue by clicking here.

Individual Permits (IP)

Standard Permit:

A Standard Permit is an individual permit that involves a full public interest review of an individual application for a Department of the Army permit. A public notice is distributed to all known interested persons. After evaluating all comments and information received, an environmental assessment is prepared and a final decision on the application is made.

The Public Notice is prepared by USACE project manager and is distributed to post offices, adjacent property owners, appropriate local governmental officials, including Federal and State resource agencies, Congressional representatives, local news media, the applicant and other interested persons.  The comment period is usually 30 days. The permit decision is generally based on the outcome of a public interest balancing process where the benefits of the project are balanced against the detriments. A permit will be granted unless the proposal is found to be contrary to the public interest.

Processing time usually takes 90 to 120 days unless a public hearing is required, or an environmental impact statement must be prepared.

Letter of Permission (LOP)

A letter of Permission is an abbreviated permit review used to cover activities which slightly exceed NWP or RP criteria. (Note: The definition of "slightly" should be based on best professional judgement of the project manager).

LOPs are issued after a coordination period with Federal and State resource agencies and a public interest evaluation.

  LOP procedures can be used for minor noncontroversial Section 10 projects and certain categories of Section 404 activities established through appropriate regulatory procedure.

Kentucky-Specific LOPs:

General Permits

Nationwide Permits

A nationwide permit is a form of general permit that authorizes a category of activities throughout the nation. These permits are valid only if the conditions applicable to the permits are met. If the conditions cannot be met, then a regional or individual permit will be required.

Kentucky 2021 Kentucky Regional General Conditions:

Nationwide Permits

Programmatic General Permits

23-PGP-01Authorizing minor structures, fill, dredging and work in TVA lakes  

All forms and inquiries must be submitted to one of the following email addresses:

Louisville District

Nashville District

Memphis District

Huntington District (coming soon)

Additional Coordination that may be required

401 Water Quality Certification

Kentucky Division of Water, 401 Water Quality Certification Section


Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act

United States Fish and Wildlife Service

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended (NHPA), requires Federal agencies to take into account the effects of their undertakings on Historic Properties and afford the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation a reasonable opportunity to comment on such undertakings. Therefore, prior to the issuance or authorization of any permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, the USACE must consider the effect the permit may have on Historic Properties. Historic Properties may include prehistoric or historic districts, sites, buildings, structures, objects, sacred sites, and traditional cultural places that are included in, or eligible for inclusion in, the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

For projects that may result in impacts to cultural resources listed on, or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), the USACE must consult with the SHPO or THPO, as appropriate. As a part of the cultural resources investigation, the USACE may also need to consult with Federally recognized Indian Tribes, in accordance with Executive Order 13175.

To assist us in ensuring compliance with Section 106 of the NHPA, USACE requires information regarding the presence or absence of cultural resources within a proposed project area of impact to be submitted with all permit requests. Failure to do so may result in delays in the Section 106 Consultation process.

When impacts to waters of the United States including wetlands, are proposed, mitigation is often required. The application must include a statement describing how impacts to waters of the United States are to be avoided and minimized.

The objective of compensatory mitigation is to offset environmental losses resulting from unavoidable impacts to waters of the United States. In general, the mitigation should be located within the same watershed as the impact site and should be located where it is most likely to successfully replace functions and services lost as a result of the impact to waters. Mitigation requirements can be found in Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 332.

Compensatory mitigation can be carried out through four methods: the restoration of a previously-existing wetland or other aquatic site, the establishment (i.e. creation) of a new aquatic site, the enhancement of an existing aquatic site’s functions, or the preservation of an existing aquatic site. There are three mechanisms for providing compensatory mitigation: mitigation banks, in-lieu fee mitigation and permittee-responsible compensatory mitigation.

How To Purchase Credits
Mitigation Plan Elements

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency define wetlands as follows:

Those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas.

In general, wetlands are areas with wetland vegetation (cattails, rushes, sedges, willows, etc.) where the soil is saturated or flooded during a significant portion of the year during most years. Wetlands include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas. Wetlands such as swamps and marshes are often obvious, but some wetlands are not easily recognized, often because they are dry during part of the year or "they just don't look very wet" from the roadside.

The use of the 1987 Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual and the applicable Regional Supplements is required when any wetland delineation is performed and submitted to the USACE. The submitted wetland delineation should be accompanied by appropriate documentation and will be subject to review and validation by the USACE.

Regional Supplement Map
Regional Supplement Map
Regional Supplement Map
Regional Supplement Map
Regional Supplement Map
Photo By: USACE
VIRIN: 240221-A-A1409-1000

The Corps Wetland Delineation Manual and Regional Supplements can be found here.

The National Wetland Plant List for each region can be found here.

To ensure a timely response to general information requests and other inquiries, USACE recommends using the appropriate “Door to the Corps” email address shown below. To find your District, click here.  When submitting a violation complaint email, please include “Violation Complaint” in the subject line of the email, your preferred contact information, a brief description of your request, and the location of the property that is the subject of your request. 

For the Louisville District, it is highly recommended to fill out and attach the "Violation Complaint Form – Louisville District" to any email submittal.

Louisville District

Nashville District

Memphis District

Huntington District (coming soon)

There are two coal basins located within Kentucky, the Illinois Coal Basin and the Appalachian Coal Basin.

KY Preapplication Coordination Process 

Find the office nearest you

Approved Jurisdictional Determinations and Permit Decisions

A jurisdictional determination is a decision by the Army Corps of Engineers as to whether areas on your property are regulated under federal statutes. A federally-regulated wetland, lake, pond or stream is called a "waters of the U.S."

Individual Approved Jurisdictional Determinations are now available (August 2015 - present) on the National Permitting and Jurisdiction Database.  Please Select the "AJD" tab on the top of the page, and then "LRD-Great Lakes and Ohio River Division" heading in the drop-down menu.

If you are unable to find a digital copy of an Approved Jurisdictional Determination in the Permitting Database, please contact the appropriate regulatory office below.

Contact a District Regulatory Office

Buffalo District
Chicago District
Detroit District
Louisville District
Huntington District: Energy Resources (West VIrginia and Ohio)
Huntington District: Regulatory/Permits (Ohio)
Huntington District: South/Transportation Branch (West Virginia and Ohio)
Nashville District
Pittsburgh District
Chick Lock

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