Nationwide permits (NWPs) are general permits issued by the Corps of Engineers on a nationwide basis to authorize minor activities with little delay or paperwork. These NWPs are issued for a category of activities when those activities are similar in nature. The NWPs help protect the aquatic environment and the public interest by providing incentives to reduce impacts on jurisdictional waters and wetlands while effectively authorizing activities that have no more than minimal individual and cumulative adverse environmental effects. State Water Quality Certification pursuant to Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, or waiver thereof, is required prior to issuance or reissuance of the nationwide permits which may result in a discharge into waters of the United States. A determination that the NWPs are consistent with the South Carolina Coastal Zone Management Program is also required prior to issuance or reissuance of the nationwide permits.
2021 Nationwide Permits Reissuance
On September 15, 2020, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) issued a proposed rule in the Federal Register that announced the reissuance of all the existing NWPs and the proposal to issue five new NWPs. In response to the September 15th proposed rule, the Department initiated actions to certify the proposed NWPs and on December 14, 2020, the Department issued a final certification in accordance with Section 401 of the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA), as amended, and a certification of consistency with the Coastal Zone Management Act (48-39-10 et.seq.)
On January 13, 2021, the Corps published a final rule in the Federal Register. In this notice, the Corps announced that it was reissuing only 12 of the existing NWPs and four new NWPs.
On March 8, 2021, the Corps’ Charleston District issued their Final Regional Conditions for the 16 NWPs. In that notice, the Charleston District denied the Section 401 Water Quality Certification (401 Certification) for NWP 12, 29, 39, 44, 57 and 58 as well as the Coastal Zone Consistency (CZC) for NWPs 12, 29, 39, 42, 44, 51, 57 and 58.
On April 27, 2021, the Department issued a NODD for a General State Certification to address the denied NWP. The General State Certification became final on May 13, 2021 and will streamline the certification process for projects that meet the general and special conditions outlined in the certification below.
For all other NWPs (excluding the 16 NWPs that were finalized by the Corps), DHEC’s 2017 NWP certifications remain in place. Those details are found below.