While recent talk about the U.S. Army Corps (ACOE) permitting has revolved around the revised definition for Waters of the United States (WOTUS) another recent permitting change here in the Jacksonville District (Florida) has flown under most radars. In August 2014, the ACOE issued guidance on evaluating Indirect/Secondary Effects on WOTUS and unless you’ve had a project reviewed under this new guidance, you may not yet be aware of its impact. In some cases, this new policy allows the ACOE to asses a wetland impact area over 300 feet from the dredging or filling impact. These indirect/secondary impacts require additional wetland mitigation, which adds additional costs to land development projects. By comparison, most water management districts evaluate secondary impacts 15 to 25 feet from the impact or work through design modifications to consider secondary impacts minimal. However, as of 11/24/2015, the ACOE issued a public notice (PN) announcing that the Indirect/Secondary Effects guidance is being re-evaluated and implementation is on hold, until further notice.
While secondary wetland impacts are a legitimate concern for wetland scientists and regulators there is not a precise tool for quantifying such impacts. The ACOE guidance document attempts to create such a tool using criteria incorporated in the state developed Uniform Mitigation Assessment Methodology (UMAM). WRA will continue to remain in contact with the local ACOE regulatory offices, to provide input on this important issue. If you have any questions about this issue, contact WRA’s Environmental Manager, Matthew Miller (mmiller@localhost)