Due to the potential for extensive telework associated with the COVID-19 situation, please email all permit applications and questions electronically to PhiladelphiaDistrictRegulatory@usace.army.mil

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Philadelphia District Regulatory Branch

The Philadelphia District was established in 1866 to manage the water resources of the Delaware River Basin, and of the Atlantic Coast from New Jersey’s Manasquan Inlet to the southern boundary of Delaware. We serve more than nine million people across portions of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Regulatory Program began in 1890 with the responsibility of protecting and maintaining the nations navigable waterways. As a result of changing public needs and evolving policy via new laws and court decisions, protection has been extended to all waters of the United States, including many wetlands.

Contact the Regulator-of-the-Day at 215-656-6728 or email for general questions, permit status, or other requests. For Agricultural questions/inquiries, please use this email. Click here for a full listing of staff contacts. 

 

Regulatory Announcements

January 2022 – Navigable Waters Protection Rule Vacatur - The Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“the agencies”) are in receipt of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona’s August 30, 2021, order vacating and remanding the Navigable Waters Protection Rule in the case of Pascua Yaqui Tribe v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In light of this order, the agencies have halted implementation of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (“NWPR”) nationwide and are interpreting “waters of the United States” consistent with the pre-2015 regulatory regime until further notice. The agencies are working expeditiously to move forward with the rulemakings announced on June 9, 2021, in order to better protect our nation’s vital water resources that support public health, environmental protection, agricultural activity, and economic growth. The agencies remain committed to crafting a durable definition of “waters of the United States” that is informed by diverse perspectives and based on an inclusive foundation

On November 18, 2021, the agencies announced the signing of a proposed rule to revise the definition of “waters of the United States.” This proposal marks a key milestone in the regulatory process announced in June 2021. The agencies propose to put back into place the pre-2015 definition of “waters of the United States,” updated to reflect consideration of Supreme Court decisions. This familiar approach would support a stable implementation of “waters of the United States” while the agencies continue to consult with states, tribes, local governments, and a broad array of stakeholders in both the current implementation and future regulatory actions.

A durable definition of “waters of the United States” is essential to ensuring clean and safe water in all communities—supporting human health, animal habitat, agriculture, watersheds, flood management, local economies, and industry. This rulemaking process follows a review conducted by the agencies as directed by the January 20, 2021 Executive Order 13990 on “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.”

Further details about the agencies’ plans, including information regarding the upcoming public meetings and proposed rule docket, can be found here.

An approved jurisdictional determination (“AJD”) is a document provided by the Corps stating the presence or absence of “waters of the United States” on a parcel or a written statement and map identifying the limits of “waters of the United States” on a parcel. See 33 C.F.R. § 331.2. Under existing Corps’ policy, AJDs are generally valid for five years unless new information warrants revision prior to the expiration date. See U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Regulatory Guidance Letter No. 05–02, § 1(a), p. 1 (June 2005) Regulatory Guidance Letter No. 05–02.  

As a general matter, the agencies’ actions are governed by the definition of “waters of the United States” that is in effect at the time the Corps completes an AJD, not by the date of the request for an AJD. AJDs completed prior to the court’s decision and not associated with a permit action (also known as “stand-alone” AJDs under RGL 16-01) will not be reopened until their expiration date, unless one of the criteria for revision is met under RGL 05-02. A NWPR AJD could also be reopened if the recipient of such an AJD requests a new AJD be provided pursuant to the pre-2015 regulatory regime. In that case, the Corps will honor such request recognizing that if the recipient of a NWPR AJD intends to discharge into waters identified as non-jurisdictional under the NWPR but which may be jurisdictional under the pre-2015 regulatory regime, such recipient may want to discuss their options with the Corps. AJD requests pending on, or received after, the Arizona court’s vacatur decision will be completed consistent with the pre-2015 regulatory regime. 

As the agencies’ actions are governed by the regulatory definition at the time of the action, permit decisions made prior to the court’s decision that relied on a NWPR AJD will not be reconsidered in response to the NWPR vacatur. Permit decisions may be modified, suspended, or revoked per 33 C.F.R. § 325.7 where the regulatory criteria are met. The Corps will not rely on an AJD issued under the NWPR (a “NWPR AJD”) in making a new permit decision. The Corps will make new permit decisions pursuant to the currently applicable regulatory regime (i.e., the pre-2015 regulatory regime). Therefore, for any currently pending permit action that relies on a NWPR AJD, or for any future permit application received that intends to rely on a NWPR AJD for purposes of permit processing, the Corps will discuss with the applicant, as detailed in RGL 16-01, whether the applicant would like to receive a new AJD completed under the pre-2015 regulatory regime to continue their permit processing or whether the applicant would like to proceed in reliance on a preliminary JD or no JD whatsoever.

November 18, 2021 -  the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army (“the agencies”) announced the signing of a proposed rule to revise the definition of “waters of the United States.” This proposal marks a key milestone in the regulatory process announced in June of 2021. The agencies propose to put back into place the pre-2015 definition of “waters of the United States,” updated to reflect consideration of Supreme Court decisions. This familiar approach to “waters of the United States” would support a stable implementation of “waters of the United States” while the agencies continue to consult with states, Tribes, local governments, and a broad array of stakeholders in both the implementation of WOTUS and future regulatory actions: https://www.usace.army.mil/Media/Announcements/Article/2875870/18-november-2021-epa-army-announce-signing-of-proposed-rule-to-revise-the-defin/

November 17, 2021 - After careful consideration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army have rescinded the memorandum “U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Process for Elevating and Coordinating Specific Draft Determinations under the Clean Water Act (CWA),” signed by EPA on June 26, 2020 and Army on June 30, 2020. The memorandum established a process by which the Corps and EPA (together, the agencies) intended to elevate to their headquarters for coordination certain case-specific and stand-alone CWA determinations under paragraph (a)(1) of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR). The NWPR did not change the definition of traditional navigable waters and retained the agencies’ longstanding “guidance on determining whether a water is a ‘traditional navigable water’ for purposes of the Rapanos Guidance, the Clean Water Act (CWA), and the agencies’ CWA implementing regulations.” However, by establishing new procedures for one category of traditional navigable waters, the 2020 elevation memorandum created an unnecessary extra step for making traditional navigable waters determinations that the agencies have been making for many years. Therefore, the agencies are rescinding that memorandum, and retaining their legal memorandum on traditional navigable waters, which has remained unchanged since 2007. The legal memorandum, “Legal Definition of ‘Traditional Navigable Waters,’” can be found at https://www.epa.gov/wotus/legal-definition-traditional-navigable-waters.”

June 25, 2021 – Issuance of the Pennsylvania State Programmatic General Permit – 6: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Districts announced the issuance of the Pennsylvania State Programmatic General Permit (PASPGP-6) on June 25, 2021.  PASPGP-6 will be effective July 1, 2021, expires June 30, 2026, and replaces the PASPGP-5 streamlined review process in Pennsylvania, which expires on June 30, 2021.  To view the Public Notice click here. To view the PASPGP-6 click here. 

20 May 2021 – 2021 Nationwide Permit Reissuance and Modification; CORRECTION: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced today a correction to the January 2021 final rule concerning the reissuance and modification of nationwide permits. A correction to the text of NWP 52 was made to address the unintended removal of text at the time of publication concerning losses greater than 1⁄2-acre of waters of the United States from discharges. More information on the 2021 NWPs and a copy of the Federal Register containing the correction to the final rule concerning NWP 52 can be found at https://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Regulatory-Program-and-Permits/Nationwide-Permits/

15 March 2021 – 2021 Nationwide Permit Reissuance: On March 09, 2021, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Philadelphia District, announced the issuance of Regional Conditions for the 12 reissued and 4 new 2021 Nationwide Permits (NWPs) . These 16 NWPs and their Regional Conditions go into effect on March 15, 2021 and will expire on March 14, 2026. The 40 existing NWPs that were not reissued or modified by the January 13, 2021, final rule, which include their 2017 General and Regional Conditions will remain in effect through their scheduled March 18, 2022, expiration date at this time. More information on the 2021 NWPs can be found at https://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Regulatory-Program-and-Permits/Nationwide-Permits/

18 May 2020 - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as part of an interagency effort with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, is announcing the availability of the final 2018 National Wetland Plant List (NWPL): The Federal Register Notice for the 2018 NWPL update can be found here. The NWPL provides plant species indicator status ratings, which are used in determining whether the hydrophytic vegetation factor is met when conducting wetland delineations under the Clean Water Act and wetland determinations under the Wetland Conservation Provisions of the Food Security Act. Other applications of the NWPL include wetland restoration, establishment, and enhancement projects. The list is effective as of May 18, 2020 and will be used in any wetland delineations performed after this date. Completed wetland delineation/determination forms should reference the version of the NWPL used to complete the form.  The final NWPL is available here. State, regional, and national lists can also be downloaded from this site.

28 Jan 2020 - NRCS and Army rescind 2005 joint memorandum: the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army have provided written notice to rescind the 2005 joint memorandum titled "Guidance on Conduction Wetland Determinations for the Food Security Act of 1985 and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act".  This rescission is effective immediately. This rescission does not alter the roles or responsibilities of the Agencies under their respective statutory and regulatory authorities. The Agencies will continue their practice of informing landowners that wetland delineations (performed by the Corps) and determinations (performed by the NRCS) may not be valid for FSA or CWA requirements, respectively.  The Agencies intend to issue new guidance on this topic in the near future.
    - written notice link: https://usace.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p16021coll11/id/4288

22 October 2019 - EPA and Army Publish Rule to Repeal 2015 "Waters of the U.S." Definition The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of the Army have published a rule to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule and re-codify the regulatory text defining "waters of the United States" (WOTUS) that existed prior to 2015.  The rule is available on the Federal Register.  The rule will become effective on December 23, 2019.  On this date, the agencies will implement the pre-2015 Rule regulations informed by applicable agency guidance documents and consistent with Supreme Court decisions and longstanding agency practice.  More information.
-Federal Register link : https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/10/22/2019-20550/definition-of-waters-of-the-united-states-recodification-of-pre-existing-rules
-More information link: https://www.epa.gov/nwpr

14 February 2019 - EPA and Army publish proposed revised "waters of the United States" definition - the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army announced today the publishing in the Federal Register of the proposed new definition of "waters of the United States" that clarifies federal authority under the Clean Water Act.  The notice is available at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/02/14/2019-00791/revised-definition-of-waters-of-the-united-states. The agencies' proposal is the second step in a two-step process to review and revise the definition of "waters of the United States" consistent with the February 2017 Presidential Executive Order entitled "Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the 'Waters of the United States' Rule." The publishing of the proposal and outreach efforts were delayed due to the lapse in appropriations for EPA. Today's notice begins a 60-day public comment period that will close on April 15, 2019. EPA and the Army will hold an informational webcast on February 14, 2019, and will host a listening session on the proposed rule in Kansas City, KS, on February 27-28, 2019. Information, including supporting analyses and fact sheets, are available at: https://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule/step-two-revise and https://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule 

EPA and Army Postpone Public Hearing on Proposed New "Waters of the United States" Definition Due to the lapse in appropriations for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), EPA and the Department of the Army (Army) have postponed the planned January 23 public hearing on the proposed new "Waters of the United States" definition until after appropriations have passed to fund the EPA. Publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register is also postponed. Information on the status of the public hearing will be posted on the EPA website at https://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule/epa-and-army-postpone-public-hearing-proposed-new-waters-united-states-definition 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army have proposed a new definition of "waters of the United States" that clarifies federal authority under the Clean Water Act.  The agencies' proposal is the second step in a two-step process to review and revise the definition of "waters of the United States" consistent with the February 2017 Presidential Executive Order entitled "Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the 'Waters of the United States' Rule."  The agencies will take comment on the proposal for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. EPA and the Army will also hold an informational webcast on January 10, 2019, and will host a listening session on the proposed rule in Kansas City, KS, on January 23, 2019.  More information including a pre-publication version of the Federal Register notice, the supporting analyses and fact sheets are available at: https://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule/step-two-revise and https://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule