Section 10 of the River and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 USC 403) regulates dredging and filling in “Navigable Waters”. Regulations for administering the law are in 33 CFR 322 and 23 CFR 650. Navigable waters are defined in 33 CFR 329.4 as “those waters that are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide and/or are presently used, or have been used in the past, or may be susceptible for use to transport interstate or foreign commerce.” The Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) administers the program.
When It Is Required
Any project that proposes erection of structures or other work in navigable waters requires a permit from the Corps. The Corps has issued a State Programmatic General Permit (PGP) that categorizes projects as “Category 1, Non-reporting”, “Category 2, Reporting”, or “Individual Permit”. (The PGP also provides authorization for activities regulated under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.) The PGP has different thresholds for permit requirements for navigable waters and non-navigable waters listed in Appendix A. For example, up to 3,000 square feet of fill in non-navigable waters qualifies as “Non-reporting”. For navigable waters, any amount of new fill requires reporting to the Corps. The PGP includes a detailed list of navigable waters in Vermont as defined in 33 CFR 329.4.
The United States Coast Guard (USCG) administers a bridge permit program under Section 9 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 for bridges over navigable waters, and has authority over the navigational clearances under those bridges. However, the USCG uses a slightly different definition of “navigable waters”, which can be found in 23 CFR 650.807. The Coast Guard has its own list of navigable waters, not as inclusive as the Corps list. In general, it is advisable to check with USCG if a waterway is listed as navigable by the Corps.
The USCG and the Corps have a signed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to formalize the process whereby the USCG provides input into the Corps’ permit evaluation process for fixed or floating structures on navigable waters. Bridges are not included since they are under separate USCG jurisdiction. The MOA stipulates that the Corps forward relevant permit applications to the USCG for review and comment.
The Army Corps permitting process is described in this manual under the Section 404 Army Corps permit page.
Regulatory programs with overlapping jurisdiction with the Section 10 Bridge Permit Program include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act: Army Corps permits for work in navigable waters cover both Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act.
Stream Alteration Permit Program: Vermont regulates alterations of all perennial streams, including navigable waterways.
For More Information
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
8 Carmichael Street, Suite 205
Essex Junction, VT 05452
Commander, First Coast Guard District
Battery Park Building One South Street
New York, NY 10004-1466
Army Corps Application and Plan Guideline Checklist
Department of the Army General Permit State of Vermont