The Corps of Engineers’ enforcement program is based on a policy of the regulation of the waters of the United States by discouraging activities that have not been properly authorized and by requiring corrective measures, where appropriate, to ensure those waters are not misused and to maintain the integrity of the program.
If a violation is suspected, steps are taken to inspect the suspected violation in a timely manner. The scheduling of investigations will reflect the nature and location of the suspected violations, the anticipated impacts, and the most effective use of inspection resources available. These investigations should confirm whether a violation exists, and if so, will identify the extent of the violation and the responsible parties.
The Corps may issue orders requiring corrective action including removal of the unauthorized work and restoration, and/or in certain cases accept an after-the-fact permit application, initiate legal action, or recommend referral to the Environmental Protection Agency for administrative, civil or criminal penalties. The EPA has independent enforcement authority under the Clean Water Act for unauthorized discharges. The Corps works closely with the EPA to coordinate the most effective and efficient resolution of Section 404 Clean Water Act violations.
For appropriate cases, the Corps may recommend criminal or civil actions to obtain penalties for violations. Appropriate cases for criminal or civil action include, but are not limited to, violations which, in the Corps’ opinion, are willful, repeated, flagrant, or of substantial impact.
Helpful advice for avoiding enforcement actions:
•Never initiate any activities in the waters of the United States without a Corps-issued Department of Army permit
•Obtaining a state permit does not obviate the need to obtain a permit from the Corps of Engineers
•Read all permit conditions, both general and specific
•Adhere to all permit conditions
•Contact the Corps for any post-permitting changes or accidental fills
•When in doubt, call the Corps or email the Corps at SAJ-RD-Enforcement@usace.army.mil
Reporting a Potential Unauthorized Activity
The Corps relies heavily on the public to report unauthorized activities. If you suspect an unauthorized activity has occurred or is underway, you may report your observations by completing the Violation Reporting Form by selecting "Report a Violation" located under Regulatory Pages. All reports will be sent to the appropriate office for review.