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Tennessee Environmental Procedures Manual

Chapter 8: Environmental Permits

8.3 Typical Permits

This section describes typical permits that may be required for TDOT projects.

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8.3.1 Section 404 Permit

This permit is obtained from the USACE for projects that have the potential to discharge dredged or fill materials into waters of the United States, including wetlands. The legal reference is Section 404 of the Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, as amended by the Clean Water Act (1977 and 1987). The purpose of the regulation is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation's waters through prevention, reduction, and elimination of pollution. The permit application allows the USACE to review the project plans and potential impacts to waters of the United States and to ensure that the project is designed to prevent or reduce harm to project-area waterways.

The two types of Section 404 permits are:

  1. Nationwide Permit (NWP)- for temporary/minor/moderate impacts. Nationwide permits are a type of general permit issued on a pre-discharge basis for minor activities with minimal impacts. There are several types of nationwide permits and the particular activity must meet all terms and conditions of the specific nationwide permit. (TDEC must issue a blanket Section 401 Water Quality Certification to validate this permit.)
  2. Individual Permit- for more severe impacts, typically one-half acre or more of impacts to waters of the U.S. If jurisdictional waters do not fall within the NWP program, an individual permit is required. (TDEC must issue a Section 401 Permit/Water Quality Certification before this permit is issued.) This permit requires a 30-day public notice period.

If the project is in the USACE Nashville District, then the appropriate permit application form is the Department of the Army (DA)/Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) form. If the project is in the Memphis District, the DA form is required.

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8.3.2 Navigable Waterways Permit

The Section 9 permit is required by the U.S. Coast Guard for construction, modification, replacement, or removal of any bridge or causeway over a navigable waterway. The legal reference is Section 9 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, as amended. Its purpose is to ensure that a project will not interfere with navigation on the U.S.'s navigable waterways. As previously stated, this permit is generally secured by the Hydraulic Design Section in the TDOT Structures Division, instead of the Permits Section.

The Section 10 permit is required by the USACE under the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, as amended. Its purpose is to ensure that projects do not degrade the water quality of the navigable waterways of the U.S., as defined by the USACE.

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8.3.3 TVA Section 26a Permit

Section 26a of the TVA Act of 1933 as amended (49 Stat. 1079, 16 U. S. C. sec. 831y1) prohibits the construction, operation or maintenance of any structure affecting navigation, flood control on public lands or reservations across, along or in the Tennessee River or any of its tributaries until plans for such activities have been reviewed and approved by TVA. This permit is obtained from TVA for construction of projects that are in or along the Tennessee River and its tributaries, i.e., the Tennessee River watershed. (See http://www.tva.gov/river/26apermits/howto.htm )

The 26a Permit shares an application form with DA Permits applied for under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, as described above.

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8.3.4 Section 401 Water Quality Certification

Pursuant to Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, a certification must be obtained from the state before any activity that may result in a pollution discharge into waters of the U.S. can be permitted by a federal agency. This certification is issued by TDEC, Division of Water Pollution Control, and states that the discharge will comply with the applicable effluent limitations and water quality standards. For Nationwide Section 404 Permits, TDEC provides a blanket approval. For Individual Section 404 Permits, an application must be completed by the permit applicant and submitted to TDEC for review. If the project is acceptable, TDEC will issue the Section 401 Water Quality Certification that states that the discharge complies with the aquatic protection requirements of the State.

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8.3.5 Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit (ARAP)

Projects that alter state waters or wetlands and that do not require an individual Section 404 permit must obtain an Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit (ARAP) from TDEC. The permit application identifies a project's potential impacts to water quality and ensures compliance with the aquatic protection requirements of the state. Similar to the Section 404 Permit, the ARAP has two types:

  1. General Permit (GARAP)- for activities that can be accomplished under the conditions of the general permit. Usually requires TDEC notification or permit application.
  2. Individual Permit (IARAP)- for any activities that cannot be accomplished under the general permit. Requires a permit application to TDEC and a 30-day public notice period.
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8.3.6 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit

The responsibility for issuing permits under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) has been delegated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to TDEC. The legal reference of the NPDES is Section 402 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, as amended by the Clean Water Act (1977 and 1987). The NPDES storm water permitting program is intended to improve the quality of the nation's rivers, lakes and streams by reducing pollution from non-point sources.

All TDOT construction activities disturbing one acre or more of land are required to obtain an NPDES permit. These permits establish pollution control and monitoring requirements. General permits for construction activities require development and implementation of a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) to help control erosion, sedimentation, and other project-generated waste.

This permitting program is overseen by TDEC's Permit Section of the Division of Water Pollution Control. This division is responsible for the permitting process and also for administration of the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act of 1977.

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8.3.7 Underground Injection Control Permit

This permit is required for any project that discharges industrial/commercial wastes into a subsurface system (other than city sewers) or stormwater into a sinkhole or cave. The permit is issued by TDEC, Division of Water Supply, Ground Water Management Section.

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8.3.8 Reelfoot Lake Watershed Permit

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) Reelfoot Lake Watershed Management permit program (T.C.A. section 70-5-1) requires that TDOT secure a permit from TWRA for any TDOT projects proposed within the watershed of Reelfoot Lake. The permit is required so that the TWRA can regulate any alterations to steams or wetlands in the Reelfoot Lake watershed and to regulate any projects that have the potential to divert surface or subsurface water from the lake or to drain or remove water from the lake. Information on this permit program can be found at http://state.tn.us/twra/.

For more information on permits required by TDEC, please check the TDEC Environmental Permitting Handbook at http://www.state.tn.us/environment/permits/#wpc.
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