Every five years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) typically reissues the Nationwide Permits (NWPs) under their Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404 permit program. The NWPs are activity-based and intended to make the permitting process faster and more efficient for the applicant. In January 2017 the Corps published its final rule for re-issuance of the existing NWPs, General Conditions, and definitions of terminology, with some modifications. The Corps included new NWPs and General Conditions in the final rule. Regional conditions specific to Nebraska have also been published, through the Omaha District Office of the Corps and NDEE published state specific conditions for Nebraska. These permits and conditions became valid on March 18, 2017, and will remain in effect through March 18, 2022. On January 13, 2021, the Corps modified and reissued twelve of the nationwide permits and created four new nationwide permits. State specific conditions were published by NDEE however the final 2021 NWP Rule was originally published as the 2020 NWP Rule and reissued all of the NWPs. The state was unable to redact and reissue state specific conditions for just the NWPs in the final rule. In addition the regional conditions were published as draft so the Corps’ regional conditions apply to the final 2021 NWP Rule. These new and reissued NWPs became valid on March 15, 2021 and will remain in effect through March 15, 2026.
Pursuant to CWA Section 401 regulations, when the new NWPs are published, states and Tribes review each proposed NWP to determine whether activities under each permit will be in compliance state and/or Tribal Water Quality Standards. As the state water pollution control agency with jurisdictional authority over Nebraska’s surface waters, NDEE is tasked with review and Water Quality Certification (WQC) of the NWPs. WQC is based on input received during a 30 day public comment period and NDEE’s determination as to whether there is reasonable assurance that NWPs will not violate applicable provisions in Title 117 – Nebraska Surface Water Quality Standards. The WQC is then incorporated by the Corps into their federal 404 permits.
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