You should apply as early as possible during the conceptual stage of the project. Two to three months is normally required to evaluate a routine application involving a public notice. You must have the required approvals before you begin any work.
For a large or complex activity, a “pre-application meeting” or an informal consultation with the Corps during the early planning phase of your project is recommended. You may receive useful information at this point which could prevent delays later. When in doubt about the requirement for a permit or what you need to do, don’t hesitate to call the local Corps office.
Because it is required by Federal law. You may not have to get an individual permit, however, depending on the type or location of work. The Corps has many general permits which authorize minor activities without the need for lengthy additional review. Check with your Corps regulatory office or our web site for information on general permits.
Performing unauthorized work in waters of the United States or failure to comply with terms and conditions of your permit can have serious consequences. You would be in violation of Federal law and could face penalties including fines, requirements to restore the area, or both.
Nationwide, only a small percentage of all requests for permits are denied. Those few applicants who have been denied permits usually have refused to change the design, timing, or location of the proposed activity to address environmental concerns. The Corps will try to give you helpful information, including the factors it evaluates during the public interest review as well as alternatives to consider that may prove to be useful in designing an acceptable project
In an area of tidal waters, the best way to avoid the need for a permit is to select a site that is above the high tide line and avoid wetlands or other waterbodies. In the vicinity of fresh water, stay above ordinary high water and avoid wetlands adjacent to the stream or lake.
Also, your activity may be exempt, and you may not need a Corps permit. If your activity is authorized by a general permit, the process is greatly simplified. So, before you build, dredge or fill, contact the Corps regulatory office in your area. Ask for specific information about locations, exemptions, and general permits.