NOTICE: Corps Regulatory Program Permit Options for Emergency Activities

From the Army Corps of Engineers:

With significant snowmelt and flooding expected over the next several months, emergency activities may need to be conducted in waterways. Certain activities may involve work or structures in navigable waters under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act and/or discharges of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

The Corps’ Sacramento District has a number of options available for those needing to conduct activities in waterways during emergency situations.

  1. No Department of the Army Permit Needed.  There are many emergency activities in waters of the U.S. that do not require a Department of the Army (DA) permit, such as using a backhoe to remove debris and sediment from a non-navigable waterway to an upland area without any return water. Customers should talk to the Sacramento District on strategies to execute emergency work without triggering the need for a permit.
  2. Maintenance exemption under Section 404(f) of the Clean Water Act.  Section 404 of the CWA includes exemptions for certain types of activities that involve a discharge of material into waters of the U.S.  Exempt from the need to obtain a DA permit is emergency reconstruction of recently damaged parts, of currently serviceable structures like dikes, dams, levees, riprap, causeways, bridge abutments or approaches, and transportation structures. The exemption does not cover any modification that changes the character, scope, or size of the original fill design. Emergency reconstruction must occur within a reasonable period of time after damage occurs to qualify for the exemption. Note this only covers activities under Section 404 of the CWA. Notification to the Sacramento District in not required before proceeding with the work. More info at:
  3. Regional General Permit 8 (Emergency Repair and Protection).  The majority of emergency activities in waters of the U.S. not covered by 404 exemption may be verified by this office under Regional General Permit 8 (RGP8).  RGP8 authorizes structures or work in or affecting navigable waters of the United States and the discharge of dredged or fill material in WOUS for necessary repair or protection of existing structures, facilities or fills where an imminent threat to life or property exists due to unforeseen events during an emergency incident. RGP8 requires the Sacramento District be notified in advance with verifications being issued within 48 hours of notification. Authorized work must be completed within 14 days of verification. More info at:
  4. Nationwide Permit 3 (Maintenance). For activities not covered above, Nationwide Permit 3 (NWP3) authorizes the repair, rehabilitation, or replacement of any previously authorized, currently serviceable structure, or fill, or of any currently serviceable structure or fill authorized by 33 CFR 330.3, provided the structure or fill is not to be put to uses differing from those uses specified or contemplated for it in the original permit or the most recently authorized modification. Minor deviations in the structure’s configuration or filled area, including those due to changes in materials, construction techniques, requirements of other regulatory agencies, or current construction codes or safety standards that are necessary to make the repair, rehabilitation, or replacement are authorized. NWP3 also authorizes the removal of accumulated sediments and debris in the vicinity of existing structures (e.g., bridges, culverted road crossings, water intake structures, etc.) and/or the placement of new or additional riprap to protect the structure. NWP3 requires the Sacramento District be notified in advance when activities involve the removal of accumulated sediments or debris; however, we recommend notification to the District in all situations. More info at:
  5. Emergency Procedures.  In rare circumstances, activities not covered by exemption or authorized under RGP8 or NWP3 (or other NWP) that need a DA permit may be processed through the Corps’ emergency procedures. Once approved by higher headquarters, emergency procedures allow the Sacramento District to expeditiously make a permit decision following coordination with state and federal agencies.  After the event, a public notice is issued and any necessary consultations completed. The procedures require the submission of a complete application for a standard permit to the Sacramento District.

If you or your organization believes an emergency activity is necessary in waters of the United States, I encourage you to contact your nearest Sacramento District Regulatory Division office.


  • Sacramento Office – (916) 557-5250
  • Redding Office – (530) 223-9534


  • Reno Office – (775) 799-8230


  • Bountiful Office – (801) 295-8380

You can also send an email to our general email box at  Thank you.

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