Wetlands – Shifting from Delineations to Permitting
Earlier this month (October 18 newsletter) the U.S. Norfolk District Army Corps of Engineers (COE), informed the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) that it is prioritizing the review and evaluation of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act of 1899 permit applications. The COE continues to accept and process requests for the confirmation of wetland and stream delineations, as well as requests for preliminary and approved Jurisdictional Determinations (JDs). However, if these requests are not associated with a permit request, the Corps’ processing of these stand-alone JDs and delineation confirmations may be substantially delayed.
Since the early part of this year, MAP Environmental Inc. has been urging our clients to submit wetlands permit applications even in the absence of the COE’s wetlands delineation verification (aka PJD letter). As most of the regulated community already knows, the COE, due to its unprecedented work volume, is now taking up to 6 months to issue its PJD letter(s).
How does that impact our client’s projects ? Well, in the absence of the wetlands PJD, there have been considerable project delays incurred by the regulated community. Realizing this challenge, we began in the Spring of 2022 implementing a proactive approach by advancing the permit application for those projects with a completed wetlands delineation and plan of development. Ironically, this approach was a foreshadowing of the process recommended in the article below. Once implemented, we discovered the chief regulators – COE and DEQ – were receptive and responsive to processing the permit application, provided there was a preliminary site plan and wetlands drawing included in the application. As a result, the agencies were able to advance the application while concurrently reviewing and ultimately approving the wetlands delineation (e.g. issuing the PJD).
This proactive approach has produced positive results and also reaffirms our company’s long-standing practice of constantly engaging the regulatory agencies, remaining steadfast on project applications, and seeking opportunities to help streamline projects especially during unique or unprecedented times.
As we embrace the shift from delineation to permitting, MAP Environmental Inc stands poised and ready to assist clients on their existing and future projects.