What is permitting?

Published May 1, 2012

“We are neither a proponent nor opponent of projects. As a steward of the public trust, our mission is to make permit decisions based on the best available information and policies set forth by the federal government to ensure compliance with the primary goal of protecting the nation’s overall aquatic environment.” -- Fred Anthamatten, USACE Galveston District Regulatory Branch chief

Q.  What is the main purpose of the Corps' permitting process?
  The mission of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Regulatory Program is to protect the nation's aquatic resources, while allowing reasonable development through fair, flexible and balanced permit decisions.  The Corps balances the reasonably foreseeable benefits and detriments of proposed projects, and makes permit decisions that recognize the essential values of the nation's aquatic ecosystems to the general public, as well as the property rights of private citizens who want to use their land.

During the permit process, the Corps considers the views of other federal, state and local agencies, interest groups and the general public. The results of this careful public interest review are fair and equitable decisions that allow reasonable use of private property, infrastructure development, and growth of the economy, while offsetting the authorized impacts to the waters of the U.S.

Q.  How do I know if I need a permit with the Corps?
  If you are planning to work in a body of water or a wetland area, whether on your private property or place of business, you should always contact the Corps to see if you will need a permit before you begin work in these areas.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District, has the authority to issue permits for work and/or structures in navigable waters of the U.S. and for the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters and some wetland areas. 

Q.  How do I initiate the permitting process?
  To start the process, you should submit a permit application to the appropriate Corps district office.  Copies of the application as well as detailed instructions for completing your submission may be found on our website, www.swg.usace.army.mil, under the Regulatory tab.

Q.  How long does the process take?
A.  The time it takes to complete the process varies, depending upon the nature of the proposed activity.  Small projects, with little to no appreciable controversy, may be authorized in as few as 60 days.  Large, more controversial projects, or projects that may result in impacts to endangered species or historic properties, can take from six months to two years to complete.

Q.  How much does it cost?
A.  The Corps charges a nominal fee to process permit applications.  Small, non-corporate applications will generally cost $10 to process.  Large, corporate-funded projects cost $100 per application. 

Q.  Why is it important to seek a permit before I begin work and what could happen if I don't obtain a permit before I begin construction?
A.  If you work in waters of the United States or discharge fill material into a wetland area over which the Corps has jurisdiction, without first obtaining authorization from the Corps, you may be in violation of federal regulations.  Violations can be very expensive to rectify and my result in civil penalties.

Q.  Who can I contact for more information?
A.  Contact your local Corps district office for more information regarding the Corps Regulatory Program or visit http://www.swg.usace.army.mil/reg/. Along the Texas coast, please call (409) 766-3982 or (409) 766-3891. In Corpus Christi, (361) 814-5850. For more news and information, find us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict, or follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/USACEgalveston.