Nationwide permits (NWPs) are a type of general permit issued by the Corps of Engineers (Corps) on a nationwide basis for activities having minimal impacts. NWPs are designed to provide timely Department of the Army authorization for certain activities in waters of the United States while also protecting the Nation's aquatic resources. Activities authorized by NWPs must be similar in nature, cause only minimal adverse environmental effects when performed separately, and cause only minimal cumulative adverse effect on the aquatic environment. NWPs can authorize activities pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. The NWPs are proposed, issued, modified, reissued (extended), and revoked from time to time, after the opportunity for public notice and comment. Last issued on March 19, 2012, there are currently 50 Nationwide Permits. The latest 2021 version of the Nationwide Permits expire on March 14, 2026.
An activity may be authorized under a NWP only if that activity and the applicant satisfy all of the NWPs terms and conditions. Your project must meet both the national and regional conditions of the NWPs, including compliance with the Endangered Species Act, and any special conditions added to your permit for your project to be authorized under a NWP. If the Corps finds that the proposed activity would have more than minimal individual or cumulative net adverse impacts on the environment, or may be contrary to the public interest, the applicant shall modify their proposal to reduce or eliminate those adverse effects, or they shall apply for a standard individual permit.
In most cases, the applicant must notify the Corps with a Pre-Construction Notification (PCN) as early as possible. A PCN is typically submitted in the form of a completed Joint Aquatic Resource Permits Application (JARPA). In order for a NWP to be valid, an individual 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) and/or Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Consistency Response may also need to be obtained from the Washington State Department of Ecology. On Tribal lands, the WQC may need to be obtained from the Environmental Protection Agency or an authorized tribe. The WQC and/or CZM need to be obtained prior to project construction.