On January 23, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) issued Draft Engineering Circular (Draft EC) 1165-2-220, which provides new guidance for counties and other non-federal Corps sponsors on how to request Section 408 permissions for modifications to current Corps projects. The Draft EC would replace existing guidelines on the permission process for changes to existing projects required under the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. While NACo does not currently have policy on Section 408 permissions, this circular is relevant to counties who are currently undertaking Corps projects and must request changes to civil works project. The Corps is accepting comments on the Draft EC until April 6, 2018.
Section 408 requires that any modification or alteration to an existing Corps project be approved by the Secretary of the Army. Some types of civil works projects that may be impacted include dams, levees, wetlands restoration, wharfs and other infrastructure, funded or built by the Army Corps. Section 408 permissions are even required for repairs of existing infrastructure such as levees. Upgrades to pipes, pumps, storm drains or adding other infrastructure to civil works projects in which counties are a project partner also require Section 408 permissions.
The Draft EC would consolidate existing guidance on Section 408 permissions and make numerous changes to the existing guidance, including clarifying how emergency situations will be handled, revising the test for when a Section 408 permit is required, announcing the general terms and standards that will be applied to all Section 408 permits, and prescribing new timeframes for the Section 408 review process.
Counties may submit comments on Draft EC 1165-2-220 (Docket number COE-2018-0003) at https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=COE-2018-0003-0001. Comments may also be submitted via email to HQ-Section408@usace.army.mil, with the docket number or “EC 1165-2-220 Comments” in the subject line of the email.