A permit is required from the USACE for discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States (33 CFR Part 323). Dredged material is material that is excavated or dredged from waters of the United States (33 CFR 323.2(c)). The discharge of dredged material is material excavated or dredged from waters of the U.S. and redeposited into waters of the U.S.; runoff or overflow from a contained land or water disposal area; or the redeposit of dredged material other than incidental fallback (33 CFR 323.2(d)). Section 404 authorization is not required for the incidental addition of dredged material that would not have the effect of destroying or degrading an area of waters of the United States. Discharge of dredged material does not include discharges associated with onshore processing of dredged material extracted for commercial use; activities involving only cutting or removing vegetation so that root systems are not disturbed; or incidental fallback of dredged material.
Fill material is material that is placed into waters of the U.S. where the material has the effect of replacing a water with dry land or changing the bottom elevation of any portion of a water of the U.S., however, it does not include trash or garbage (33 CFR 323.2(e)). The discharge of fill material is the addition of fill material into waters of the U.S. The definition identifies activities that may be associated with the placement of fill including: any structure or infrastructure; impoundments; recreational, industrial, commercial, residential, or other uses; causeways or roads; dams or dikes; artificial islands; property protection or reclamation devices; beach nourishment; levees; sewage treatment facilities; intake and outfall pipes; subaqueous utility lines; construction or maintenance of any liner, berm, or other infrastructure of solid waste landfill; placement of overburden, slurry or tailings or similar mining-related materials; and artificial reefs. Plowing, cultivating, seeding, and harvesting for the production of food, fiber, and forest products are excluded.
All discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States require a permit unless they are exempted or excepted in the regulations. Section 404(f) exemptions (33 CFR 323.4) include: normal farming, forestry, and ranching activities, maintenance of recently damaged structures, construction/maintenance of farm ponds & irrigation ditches, construction of temporary sedimentation basins, Section (208)(b)(4) approved State program activities, and construction/maintenance of farm, forest, mining roads using approved best management practices. However, discharges that are a part of an activity whose purpose is to convert an area of waters of the U. S. to a use to which it was not previously subject and the flow or circulation of waters of the U.S. would be impaired or the reach of such waters reduced, must have a permit.