CONCORD, Mass. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District is proposing to revise and replace the statewide Massachusetts General Permits (GPs) with updated GPs for minimal-impact activities subject to Corps jurisdiction in waters of the U.S.
The revisions to the GPs are largely structural and procedural. There are few changes relative to impact thresholds or pre-construction notification requirements. The revised GPs will continue to authorize activities subject to Corps jurisdiction in waters of the U.S. within the boundaries of, and off the coast of, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, excluding work within the boundaries of Indian Tribal lands.
The revised document adds a GP titled “Aquaculture Activities” and deletes the GP titled “Previously Authorized Activities.” The Corps also is revising the GP document to include information concerning
projects that are proposed within the boundaries of, or which otherwise impact federal projects, including (but
not limited to) dikes, levees, flowage easements, anchorages and federal navigation projects. Activities
within these areas require a separate authorization from the District Commander, known as a “408
Approval,” pursuant to 33 U.S.C. Section 408. The 408 Approval must be in place prior to the issuance of a
Corps Regulatory Division permit pursuant to the laws identified below.
The existing MA GPs expire on Feb. 4, 2020. However, the Corps proposes to reissue the GPs for five years with a new start date in 2016 or 2017 and an expiration date 5 years later (2021/2022). The revised GPs will continue the expedited review process for activities in the Corps’ jurisdiction pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, and Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act. A public notice, available on the Corps website, is being issued in accordance with 33 CFR 325.3(b) to coordinate reissuance of the MA GPs with Federal resource agencies, state agencies and the public. Public comments can be submitted to the Corps until Aug. 8, 2016.
The existing GPs and their procedures will remain in effect until the effective date of the new GPs. Authorizations issued by the Corps under the existing GPs, prior to the effective date of the new GPs, will remain authorized until the original expiration date (Feb. 4, 2020). Permittees who received written authorization under the existing GPs will not be required to re-apply under the new GPs before Feb. 4, 2020 unless the project proposal is modified to alter the authorized impacts to waters of the U.S.
The Corps is proposing to streamline the content of the GPs and their terms and conditions in order to make them more understandable and easier to follow. Also, the Corps is proposing to relieve the permit applicants
of the requirement to contact state and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers and the Massachusetts Board of
Underwater Archaeological Resources. The Corps will be responsible for the coordination effort upon receipt of a complete application.
Similar to the existing GPs, the revised GPs organize eligible activities into 23 activity-specific categories. The proposed GPs retain the function and utility of the existing GPs and are not expected to result in significant substantive changes to how activities in waters of the U.S. are regulated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
All authorizations under the GPs would be subject to the applicability requirements, procedures and conditions contained in the GP document and any additional written authorization. Project eligibility under these GPs will fall into two categories: Self-Verification (SV) and Pre-Construction Notification (PCN) required. Individual authorizations under the GPs are not valid until all other required Federal authorizations and state certifications are obtained.
Projects with minimal individual and cumulative effects on the aquatic environment will be approved administratively under these GPs. Representatives of the Corps, state agencies, and federal resource agencies (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and National Marine Fisheries Service) will continue to review those activities requiring a Preconstruction Notification to the Corps. Projects that do not meet the terms and conditions of the GPs, including those that have the potential for more than minimal effects, will require an Individual Permit.
The public notice, with more detailed information, can be viewed on the Corps website at: www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/PublicNotices.aspx.
Public comments on the proposal to revise and replace the MA GPs (file #NAE-2016-00599) should be forwarded no later than Aug. 8, 2016 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division (ATTN: Alan Anacheka-Nasemann), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Alan Anacheka-Nasemann at 978-318-8214 or toll free 800-343-4789 or 800-362-4367 (if calling from within Massachusetts) or by email to: email@example.com.