Exemptions from Section 404 review

Some work in wetlands and streams under the jurisdiction of the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) may be exempt from getting a permit. Use the information on this page to determine if the work is exempt from getting a permit. Before using this page, follow the instructions on the Determining jurisdiction of wetlands & other waters webpage to determine who has jurisdiction over the stream or wetland where work will occur.

Work in or over navigable waters is not exempt from getting a permit under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act.

The maintenance or emergency repair of transportation structures or riprap that was previously authorized may be exempt from getting a permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 CFR 323.4). This can include bank stabilization, culvert repairs, and bridge footing scour repairs.

To be exempt, work must be consistent with the previously authorized work in the following ways:

  • Scope - The purpose of the work must be the same as the purpose of the previous work.
  • Character - The material must be of the same type and size (or one size larger) as was previously placed.
  • Size - The footprint of the work must be the same as the previous footprint.

The repair must also be done within a “reasonable period of time” after the damage occurs to be exempt.

Work in Section 404 jurisdictional waters is exempt if it is consistent with the scope, character, and size of previously authorized fill.

In the graphic above, work above the Mean High Water line (MHWL) (not shown, Section 10 Jurisdiction line) and below the Mean Higher High Water line is under the Corps Section 404 jurisdiction. Work below the yellow line would be exempt from getting a permit if the new material is placed above the MHWL for the same purpose (to stabilize the bank), is the same character of the fill material that was already permitted (riprap), and is in the same place or footprint. Work above the yellow line, on the natural bank, would not be exempt because there is no previously authorized fill material and any work would be considered new.

If you are certain the work is exempt, it is not necessary to submit an application or request approval from the Corps.

If you are not sure if the work is exempt, contact the liaison program for help. The contact information for the Corps liaisons and the Liaison Program Coordinator is on the Environmental liaisons webpage.

If the work is not exempt, apply for a Section 404 or Section 10 permit from the Corps by following the instructions on the Section 404 & 10 Nationwide Permits webpage.