The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is responsible for protecting the integrity of the nation's waterways through Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which is a program established to regulate the discharge of dredged and fill material into waters of the United States. Filling for commercial development, public infrastructure, dams, and conversion of wetlands for farming are some of the activities regulated under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. However, ongoing silvicultural, agricultural, and ranching activities are exempt from regulation under Section 404.
Regulated activities in wetlands and waters of the U.S. are controlled by
a permit review process administered by the USACE, and the objective of the
program is to insure no discharge of dredged or fill material be permitted
if the nation's waters would be significantly degraded or if a practicable
alternative exists that is less damaging to the aquatic environment.
When applying for a permit from the USACE for the discharge of dredged or fill material into wetlands and waters of the U.S., the applicant must follow the below steps in order:
1. avoid impacts to wetlands
2. minimize potential impacts to wetlands
3. provide compensation in the form of wetland mitigation for unavoidable impacts to wetlands.