A permit application requires a purpose and need statement [33 CFR 325.1(d)]. The applicant should write this in their own words, telling the Corps what they believe the purpose to be. The Corps will use this information to develop a more formal “purpose and need” statement, which will help identify project alternatives that need to be considered as part of the evaluation under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines, and the Corps’ own public interest review factors.
The need for a project typically is something that can be measured or quantified. For example, a community needs housing to accommodate the housing needs of the 1000 new employees hired by a local company.
A project’s purpose is based on the need it satisfies and is defined in two ways: basic and overall. The basic purpose is defined in the simplest terms. For example,
the basic purpose of residential development is to provide shelter or housing. The overall purpose is more specific and captures the more detailed aspects of why the project is needed. For example, the project proposes to build town-homes, duplexes and apartments.
Another example of a purpose and need statement submitted by an applicant: “To remove accumulated sediment in front of the Sunshine Harbor boat ramp in order to allow continued operation of the Sunshine ferry.”
The purpose of the project is to remove sediment, which is needed to allow continued ferry operation. The next step is to use this statement to identify the different ways that sediments can be removed (or project alternatives), such as dredging, sluicing, flow modification, and/or other measures. Please see “Alternatives Analysis” under the “Permitting” tab to learn more about how project alternatives may be developed and evaluated.
A purpose and need statement may also explain anticipated benefits of a project, such as any public, social, economic, or environmental benefits of the project. For example:
“To improve fish and wildlife habitat functions in degraded wetlands through restoration activities at the Wetland Prairie Preserve. Anticipated benefits include environmental enhancements to habitat for migratory birds and amphibian species in the area through increased acreage of forested and palustrine emergent wetlands.”
Please note that project benefits are part of the overall project review. They are not used to eliminate or screen out project alternatives, but are taken into consideration in the permit decision.