The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers receives its authority from the following federal laws:
Section 10 of the Rivers & Harbors Act of 1899
Requires approval prior to the accomplishment of any work in or over navigable waters of the United States, or work which affects the course, location, condition or capacity of such waters. Projects typically requiring Section 10 permits include construction of piers, wharves, bulkheads, dolphins, marinas, ramps, floats intake structures, and cable or pipeline crossings; dredging and excavation; and Overhead transmission lines, tunnels, or directional bore holes.
Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899
33 USC 408 (commonly referred to as “Section 408”), authorizes the Secretary of the Army, on the recommendation of the Chief of Engineers of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), to grant permission for the alteration or occupation or use of a USACE civil works project if the Secretary determines that the activity will not be injurious to the public interest and will not impair the usefulness of the project.
The following websites may help clarifying if your project is near a USACE civil works project:
USACE Project Locations Map
National Levee Database
For more information and to begin the application process for a Section 408 review, visit our Section 408 webpage.
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act
Requires approval prior to discharging dredged or fill material into the waters of the United States. The Clean Water Act aims to protect the physical, chemical and biological integrity of water quality in the United States. Increased surface runoff from development has the potential to cause significant changes in aquatic ecosystems. Discharges of runoff may carry pollutants such as eroded soil, oil, metals, and pesticides that adversely affect oceans, streams, wetlands, lakes, and groundwater.
Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research, & Sanctuaries Act of 1972
As amended (33 U.S.C. 1413), authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue permits for the transportation of dredged material for the purpose of dumping it into ocean waters.
Other laws which affect our program: Some projects will require additional evaluation under other related laws and regulations. The lists below are not exhaustive. They are provided to make you aware of other laws which affect our program. Some of these laws apply regularly and some of them are rarely applicable.
Section 401 of the Clean Water Act
The Clean Water Act (CWA) gives states and authorized Native American Tribes the authority to grant, deny, or waive certification of proposed federal licenses or permits that may discharge into waters of the United States. Under Section 401 of the CWA, a federal agency may not issue a permit or license to conduct any activity that may result in any discharge into waters of the United States unless a Section 401 water quality certification is issued, or certification is waived. States and authorized Native American Tribes where the discharge would originate are generally responsible for issuing water quality certifications. In cases where a state or tribe does not have authority, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for issuing certification. The Section 401 certification can cover both the construction and operation of the proposed project. Conditions of the Section 401 certification become conditions of the permit issued by the Corps. Section 404 permits generally require Section 401 water quality certifications. Section 10 permits may also require Section 401 water quality certifications.
When you apply for a permit from the Corps, you are often required to obtain a Section 401 water quality certification from the certifying authority. The Section 401 certification is generally conducted at the same time as the Corps’ review. To apply for a Section 401 certification, contact the applicable certifying authority. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is typically the certifying authority unless the project is located where a Native American Tribe or the EPA is the certifying authority.
For additional information on Section 401 visit:
• U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Section 401 webpage
• Oregon Department of Environmental Quality's Section 401 webpage
Endangered Species Act
The purpose of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is to protect and recover many of our nation’s native plant and animal species that are in danger of becoming extinct. This protection extends to the habitats upon which they depend. The ESA is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The USFWS consults on birds, terrestrial animals, plants, amphibians and most freshwater fish. The NMFS consults on salmon, marine fish, marine mammals and marine reptiles.
When a proposed project will affect a species listed under the Endangered Species Act, the Corps is required to consult with the NMFS and/or the USFWS and cannot issue a permit until that consultation is complete. A Corps tool designed to expedite the consultation is called Standard Local Operating Procedures for Endangered Species (SLOPES). SLOPES allows for a streamlined formal consultation process by timing projects to avoid critical life history windows; by minimizing aquatic resource, species and designated critical habitat impacts; and by improving the environmental baseline through site-specific habitat improvements. The SLOPES related documents are posted in the gray box below titled Biological opinions and letters of concurrence.