Bridge project: 404 permit 101
Question: What is a “404” Permit and why does the Grand Avenue bridge project need one?
In 1972, Congress passed amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, also known as the Clean Water Act. Its objective is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation’s waters by preventing pollution sources, providing assistance to publicly owned treatment works for the improvement of wastewater treatment and maintaining the integrity of wetlands.
The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of any pollutant into a river or stream unless it is authorized by a permit. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers administers permits under the act. Three types of permits are administered by the Army Corps and are named after the sections of the Act: Section 401 permits authorize water quality certification; Section 402 permits cover traditional pollutants; and Section 404 permits regulate dredged or filled materials. Because the placement of the bridge project’s causeways required fill to be placed in the river, the project was required to obtain a 404 permit.
During the permit approval process, the Army Corps also coordinated with other state and federal agencies. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency has a major role in the permitting process, as the EPA retains the ability to make the ultimate determination and may veto an Army Corps decision.
The 404 Permit authorized for the project is known as a “nationwide” permit for linear transportation projects. It came with the following conditions:
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• Construction in the water will be done outside of seasonal fish spawning season, March 1 to June 30.
• Work in the water shall cease if water temperatures rise above 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
• The project shall monitor river conditions, and the Army Corps shall receive quarterly reports from the project regarding progress and monitoring.
• The project must use appropriate native riparian vegetation and trees when work is completed.
• If the three-day streamflow forecast for the Colorado River in the construction zone exceeds 21,500 cubic feet per second, the contractor will begin removing portions of the causeway. (The causeways are temporary and will be removed during low water flow in February 2018.)
As you can see, the 404 permitting process is a comprehensive way to determine and address impacts to the river as the construction project proceeds. The permit contains conditions of approval to ensure the biological health of the river and to mitigate the possible effects of the project during a flood.
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