US Army Corps of Engineers
Omaha District

Pre-Construction Notification

NWP General Conditions - Condition 32

Published Feb. 6, 2014

Nationwide Permits General Condition 32 (continued) Pre-Construction Notification

(a) Timing. Where required by the terms of the NWP, the prospective permittee must notify the district engineer by submitting a pre- construction notification (PCN) as early as possible. The district engineer must determine if the PCN is complete within 30 calendar days of the date of receipt and, if the PCN is determined to be incomplete, notify the prospective permittee within that 30 day period to request the additional information necessary to make the PCN complete. The request must specify the information needed to make the PCN complete. As a general rule, district engineers will request additional information necessary to make the PCN complete only once. However, if the prospective permittee does not provide all of the requested information, then the district engineer will notify the prospective permittee that the PCN is still incomplete and the PCN review process will not commence until all of the requested information has been received by the district engineer. The prospective permittee shall not begin the activity until either:

(1)   He or she is notified in writing by the district engineer that the activity may proceed under the NWP with any special conditions imposed by the district or division engineer; or

(2)   45 calendar days have passed from the district engineer’s receipt of the complete PCN and the prospective permittee has not received written notice from the district or division engineer. However, if the permittee was required to notify the Corps pursuant to general condition 18 that listed species or critical habitat might be affected or are in the vicinity of the activity, or to notify the Corps pursuant to general condition 20 that the activity might have the potential to cause effects to historic properties, the permittee cannot begin the activity until receiving written notification from the Corps that there is “no effect” on listed species or “no potential to cause effects” on historic properties, or that any consultation required under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (see 33 CFR 330.4(f)) and/or section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (see 33 CFR 330.4(g)) has been completed. Also, work cannot begin under NWPs 21, 49, or 50 until the permittee has received written approval from the Corps. If the proposed activity requires a written waiver to exceed specified limits of an NWP, the permittee may not begin the activity until the district engineer issues the waiver. If the district or division engineer notifies the permittee in writing that an individual permit is required within 45 calendar days of receipt of a complete PCN, the permittee cannot begin the activity until an individual permit has been obtained. Subsequently, the permittee’s right to proceed under the NWP may be modified, suspended, or revoked only in accordance with the procedure set forth in 33 CFR 330.5(d)(2).

 

(b)   Contents of Pre-Construction Notification: The PCN must be in writing and include the following information:

(1)   Name, address and telephone numbers of the prospective permittee;

(2)   Location of the proposed activity;

(3)   Identify the specific NWP or NWP(s) the prospective permittee wants to use to authorize the proposed activity;

(4)   A description of the proposed activity; the activity’s purpose; direct and indirect adverse environmental effects the activity would cause, including the              anticipated amount of loss of wetlands, other special aquatic sites, and other waters expected to result from the NWP activity, in acres, linear feet, or                    other appropriate unit of measure; a description of any proposed mitigation measures intended to reduce the adverse environmental effects caused                      by the proposed activity; and any other NWP(s), regional general permit(s), or individual permit(s) used or intended to be used to authorize any part               of the proposed project or any related activity, including other separate and distant crossings for linear projects that require Department of the                             Army authorization but do not require pre-construction notification. The description of the proposed activity and any proposed mitigation measures                     should be sufficiently detailed to allow the district engineer to determine that the adverse environmental effects of the activity will be no more                             than minimal and to determine the need for compensatory mitigation or other mitigation measures.  For single and complete linear projects, the PCN                 must include the quantity of anticipated losses of wetlands, other special aquatic sites, and other waters for each single and complete crossing                         of those wetlands, other special aquatic sites, and other waters. Sketches should be provided when necessary to show that the activity complies with               the terms of the NWP. (Sketches usually clarify the activity and when provided results in a quicker decision. Sketches should contain sufficient detail               to provide an illustrative description of the proposed activity (e.g., a conceptual plan), but do not need to be detailed engineering plans);

(5)   The PCN must include a delineation of wetlands, other special aquatic sites, and other waters, such as lakes and ponds, and perennial, intermittent, and ephemeral streams, on the project site. Wetland delineations must be prepared in accordance with the current method required by the Corps. The permittee may ask the Corps to delineate the special aquatic sites and other waters on the project site, but there may be a delay if the Corps does the delineation, especially if the project site is large or contains many wetlands, other special aquatic sites, and other waters. Furthermore, the 45 day period will not start until the delineation has been submitted to or completed by the Corps, as appropriate;

(6)   If the proposed activity will result in the loss of greater than 1/10-acre of wetlands and a PCN is required, the prospective permittee must submit a statement describing how the mitigation requirement will be satisfied, or explaining why the adverse environmental effects are no more than minimal and why compensatory mitigation should not be required. As an alternative, the prospective permittee may submit a conceptual or detailed mitigation plan.

(7)   For non-Federal permittees, if any listed species or designated critical habitat might be affected or is in the vicinity of the activity, or if the activity is located in designated critical habitat, the PCN must include the name(s) of those endangered or threatened species that might be affected by the proposed activity or utilize the designated critical habitat that might be affected by the proposed activity. For NWP activities that require pre-construction notification, Federal permittees must provide documentation demonstrating compliance with the Endangered Species Act;

(8)   For non-Federal permittees, if the NWP activity might have the potential to cause effects to a historic property listed on, determined to be eligible for listing on, or potentially eligible for listing on, the National Register of Historic Places, the PCN must state which historic property might have the potential to be affected by the proposed activity or include a vicinity map indicating the location of the historic property. For NWP activities that require pre-construction notification, Federal permittees must provide documentation demonstrating compliance with section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act;

(9)   For an activity that will occur in a component of the National Wild and Scenic River System, or in a river officially designated by Congress as a “study river” for possible inclusion in the system while the river is in an official study status, the PCN must identify the Wild and Scenic River or the “study river” (see general condition 16); and

(10)  For an activity that requires permission from the Corps pursuant to 33 U.S.C. 408 because it will alter or temporarily or permanently occupy or use a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers federally authorized civil works project, the pre-construction notification must include a statement confirming that the project proponent has submitted a written request for section 408 permission from the Corps office having jurisdiction over that USACE project.


(c)   Form of Pre-Construction Notification: The standard individual permit application form (Form ENG 4345) may be used, but the completed application form must clearly indicate that it is an NWP PCN and must include all of the applicable information required in paragraphs (b)(1) through (10) of this general condition. A letter containing the required information may also be used.  Applicants may provide electronic files of PCNs and supporting materials if the district engineer has established tools and procedures for electronic submittals.

 

(d)  Agency Coordination: 

(1) The district engineer will consider any comments from Federal and state agencies concerning the proposed activity’s compliance with the terms and conditions of the NWPs and the need for mitigation to reduce the activity’s adverse environmental effects so that they are no more than minimal.

(2)   Agency coordination is required for: (i) all NWP activities that require pre- construction notification and result in the loss of greater than 1/2-acre of waters of the United States; (ii) NWP 21, 29, 39, 40, 42, 43, 44, 50, 51, and 52 activities that require pre-construction notification and will result in the loss of greater than 300 linear feet of stream bed; (iii) NWP 13 activities in excess of 500 linear feet, fills greater than one cubic yard per running foot, or involve discharges of dredged or fill material into special aquatic sites; and (iv) NWP 54 activities in excess of 500 linear feet, or that extend into the waterbody more than 30 feet from the mean low water line in tidal waters or the ordinary high water mark in the Great Lakes.

(3)  When agency coordination is required, the district engineer will immediately provide (e.g., via e-mail, facsimile transmission, overnight mail, or other expeditious manner) a copy of the complete PCN to the appropriate Federal or state offices (FWS, state natural resource or water quality agency, EPA, and, if appropriate, the NMFS). With the exception of NWP 37, these agencies will have 10 calendar days from the date the material is transmitted to notify the district engineer via telephone, facsimile transmission, or e-mail that they intend to provide substantive, site-specific comments. The comments must explain why the agency believes the adverse environmental effects will be more than minimal. If so contacted by an agency, the district engineer will wait an additional 15 calendar days before making a decision on the pre-construction notification. The district engineer will fully consider agency comments received within the specified time frame concerning the proposed activity’s compliance with the terms and conditions of the NWPs, including the need for mitigation to ensure the net adverse environmental effects of the proposed activity are no more than minimal. The district engineer will provide no response to the resource agency, except as provided below. The district engineer will indicate in the administrative record associated with each pre-construction notification that the resource agencies’ concerns were considered. For NWP 37, the emergency watershed protection and rehabilitation activity may proceed immediately in cases where there is an unacceptable hazard to life or a significant loss of property or economic hardship will occur. The district engineer will consider any comments received to decide whether the NWP 37 authorization should be modified, suspended, or revoked in accordance with the procedures at 33 CFR 330.5.

(4)   In cases of where the prospective permittee is not a Federal agency, the district engineer will provide a response to NMFS within 30 calendar days of receipt of any Essential Fish Habitat conservation recommendations, as required by section 305(b)(4)(B) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

(5)   Applicants are encouraged to provide the Corps with either electronic files or multiple copies of pre-construction notifications to expedite agency coordination.

D.
District Engineer’s Decision

1.  In reviewing the PCN for the proposed activity, the district engineer will determine whether the activity authorized by the NWP will result in more than minimal individual or cumulative adverse environmental effects or may be contrary to the public interest.  If a project proponent requests authorization by a specific NWP, the district engineer should issue the NWP verification for that activity if it meets the terms and conditions of that NWP, unless he or she determines, after considering mitigation, that the proposed activity will result in more than minimal individual and cumulative adverse effects on the aquatic environment and other aspects of the public interest and exercises discretionary authority to require an individual permit for the proposed activity. For a linear project, this determination will include an evaluation of the individual crossings of waters of the United States to determine whether they individually satisfy the terms and conditions of the NWP(s), as well as the cumulative effects caused by all of the crossings authorized by NWP. If an applicant requests a waiver of the 300 linear foot limit on impacts to streams or of an otherwise applicable limit, as provided for in NWPs 13, 21, 29, 36, 39, 40, 42, 43, 44, 50, 51, 52, or 54, the district engineer will only grant the waiver upon a written determination that the NWP activity will result in only minimal individual and cumulative adverse environmental effects. For those NWPs that have a waivable 300 linear foot limit for losses of intermittent and ephemeral stream bed and a 1/2-acre limit (i.e., NWPs 21, 29, 39, 40, 42, 43, 44, 50, 51, and 52), the loss of intermittent and ephemeral stream bed, plus any other losses of jurisdictional waters and wetlands, cannot exceed 1/2-acre.

2.    When making minimal adverse environmental effects determinations the district engineer will consider the direct and indirect effects caused by the NWP activity. He or she will also consider the cumulative adverse environmental effects caused by activities authorized by NWP and whether those cumulative adverse environmental effects are no more than minimal.  The district engineer will also consider site specific factors, such as the environmental setting in the vicinity of the NWP activity, the type of resource that will be affected by the NWP activity, the functions provided by the aquatic resources that will be affected by the NWP activity, the degree or magnitude to which the aquatic resources perform those functions, the extent that aquatic resource functions will be lost as a result of the NWP activity (e.g., partial or complete loss), the duration of the adverse effects (temporary or permanent), the importance of the aquatic resource functions to the region (e.g., watershed or ecoregion), and mitigation required by the district engineer. If an appropriate functional or condition assessment method is available and practicable to use, that assessment method may be used by the district engineer to assist in the minimal adverse environmental effects determination. The district engineer may add case-specific special conditions to the NWP authorization to address site- specific environmental concerns.

3.  If the proposed activity requires a PCN and will result in a loss of greater than 1/10-acre of wetlands, the prospective permittee should submit a mitigation proposal with the PCN. Applicants may also propose compensatory mitigation for NWP activities with smaller impacts, or for impacts to other types of waters (e.g., streams). The district engineer will consider any proposed compensatory mitigation or other mitigation measures the applicant has included in the proposal in determining whether the net adverse environmental effects of the proposed activity are no more than minimal. The compensatory mitigation proposal may be either conceptual or detailed. If the district engineer determines that the activity complies with the terms and conditions of the NWP and that the adverse environmental effects are no more than minimal, after considering mitigation, the district engineer will notify the permittee and include any activity-specific conditions in the NWP verification the district engineer deems necessary. Conditions for compensatory mitigation requirements must comply with the appropriate provisions at 33 CFR 332.3(k). The district engineer must approve the final mitigation plan before the permittee commences work in waters of the United States, unless the district engineer determines that prior approval of the final mitigation plan is not practicable or not necessary to ensure timely completion of the required compensatory mitigation. If the prospective permittee elects to submit a compensatory mitigation plan with the PCN, the district engineer will expeditiously review the proposed compensatory mitigation plan. The district engineer must review the proposed compensatory mitigation plan within 45 calendar days of receiving a complete PCN and determine whether the proposed mitigation would ensure the NWP activity results in no more than minimal adverse environmental effects. If the net adverse environmental effects of the NWP activity (after consideration of the mitigation proposal) are determined by the district engineer to be no more than minimal, the district engineer will provide a timely written response to the applicant. The response will state that the NWP activity can proceed under the terms and conditions of the NWP, including any activity-specific conditions added to the NWP authorization by the district engineer.

4.   If the district engineer determines that the adverse environmental effects of the proposed activity are more than minimal, then the district engineer will notify the applicant either: (a) that the activity does not qualify for authorization under the NWP and instruct the applicant on the procedures to seek authorization under an individual permit; (b) that the activity is authorized under the NWP subject to the applicant’s submission of a mitigation plan that would reduce the adverse environmental effects so that they are no more than minimal; or (c) that the activity is authorized under the NWP with specific modifications or conditions. Where the district engineer determines that mitigation is required to ensure no more than minimal adverse environmental effects, the activity will be authorized within the 45-day PCN period (unless additional time is required to comply with general conditions 18, 20, and/or 31, or to evaluate PCNs for activities authorized by NWPs 21, 49, and 50), with activity-specific conditions that state the mitigation requirements. The authorization will include the necessary conceptual or detailed mitigation plan or a requirement that the applicant submit a mitigation plan that would reduce the adverse environmental effects so that they are no more than minimal.

When compensatory mitigation is required, no work in waters of the United States may occur until the district engineer has approved a specific mitigation plan or has determined that prior approval of a final mitigation plan is not practicable or not necessary to ensure timely completion of the required compensatory mitigation.