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Framework for Dredged Material Management
May 2004
of the Criteria by USEPA [40 CFR 225.2 (e)]. In addition, USEPA has authority under
Section 102 to designate ocean-disposal sites. The USACE is required to use such sites
for ocean disposal to the extent feasible. Section 103 does authorize the USACE, where
use of a USEPA-designated site is not feasible or a site has not been designated by
USEPA, to select ocean-disposal sites for project(s)-specific use. In exercising this
authority, the USACE utilizes the USEPA site-selection criteria (40 CFR 228), and the
site selection is subject to USEPA review as part of its permit review responsibilities.
1.4.3 Overview of CWA
Section 404 of the CWA requires USEPA, in conjunction with the USACE, to
promulgate Guidelines3 for the discharge of dredged or fill material to ensure that such
proposed discharge will not result in unacceptable adverse environmental impacts to
waters of the United States. Section 404 assigns to the USACE the responsibility for
authorizing all such proposed discharges, and requires application of the Guidelines in
assessing the environmental acceptability of the proposed action. Under the Guidelines,
the USACE is also required to examine practicable alternatives to the proposed
discharge, including alternatives to disposal in waters of the United States and
alternatives with potentially less damaging consequences. The USACE and USEPA also
have authority under Section 230.80 to identify, in advance, sites that are either suitable
or unsuitable for the discharge of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States.
USEPA is responsible for general environmental oversight under Section 404 and,
pursuant to Section 404(c), retains permit veto authority. In addition, Section 401
provides the States a certification role as to project compliance with applicable State
water quality standards.
1.4.4 Overview of NEPA
Dredged material disposal activities must comply with the applicable NEPA
requirements regarding identification and evaluation of alternatives. The basic NEPA
process discussed in this framework is that specifically associated with the dredging
project (as opposed to other related actions such as ocean-site designation which may
require an entirely separate NEPA process).
Section 102(2) of NEPA requires the examination of reasonable4 alternatives to
the action proposed by the lead agency. The alternatives analyzed in an Environmental
Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) must include not only all
reasonable alternatives but also those that were eliminated from further study (Part
1502.14) by the agency responsible for the final decision. The NEPA document must
rigorously address reasonable alternatives that are beyond the capability of the applicant
For purposes of this report, Guidelines (capitalized) refer to the CWA Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines.
The terms practicable (CWA), feasible (MPRSA), and reasonable (NEPA) all have specific regulatory
meaning. However, in this document, the term reasonable is used generically and not in a strict regulatory
sense. Reasonable is herein defined as practical or feasible from the technical and economic standpoint and
using common sense, rather than simply desirable from the standpoint of the project proponent or applicant.

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