The Clean Water Act (CWA) was enacted to conserve and restore the quality of the nation's waterways. As part of this legislation, the Corps of Engineers was given the responsibility of issuing dredge and fill permits (Section 404 permits) for activities in "waters of the U.S." Waters of the U.S. include lakes, streams, special aquatic sites, and wetlands. Please to refer to the Regulatory Branch website for more details on the Corps' Regulatory Program.
When the Corps constructs a civil works project, it does not issue permits to itself. Instead the Corps follows a process similar to the established permit process. This parallel process is administered by ERS rather than Regulatory Branch. Delineation of wetlands and other waters of the U.S. is still required, as is an alternatives analysis, a 404(b)(1) analysis, and the identification of mitigation measures. For most Corps projects, a 401 Water Quality Certification issued by the affected state is also required.