EPA Seeks Public Comment on Florida’s Request to Administer a Clean Water Act Section 404 Program
ATLANTA (October 5, 2020) – On August 20, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received a request from the state of Florida to assume administration of a Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404 program to regulate the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters within the jurisdiction of the state as provided under Section 404(g) of the CWA. In the 43 years since the CWA was amended to provide for state or tribal assumption, only two states have assumed administration of the CWA Section 404 program (Michigan and New Jersey). Florida is the first state or tribe to submit a complete package requesting to administer the program since 1994.
As part of the review process, EPA began soliciting public review and comment on Florida’s proposal to administer a Section 404 program as well as soliciting public comment and consulting under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. All public comments must be received on or before November 2, 2020. The EPA will also hold virtual public hearings on October 21 and 27, 2020, during which EPA will accept comments regarding Florida’s request and regarding potential effects on historic properties pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
Additionally, as part of its review process set forth by the CWA and its implementing regulations, EPA is seeking input from other applicable agencies and reviewing Florida’s proposed program for consistency with the CWA. An assumed program must be consistent with and no less stringent than the requirements of the CWA and its implementing regulations. EPA intends to approve or disapprove the State of Florida's request to assume administration of a CWA Section 404 program by December 17, 2020.
Section 404 of the CWA requires a permit before dredged or fill material may be discharged into waters of the United States. Section 404(g) of the CWA gives states and tribes the option of assuming, or taking over, the permitting responsibility and administration of the Section 404 permit program for certain waters. Section 404 permits for those assumed waters would be issued by the state or tribe instead of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). The CWA provides that the Corps retains permitting authority in certain tidal waters and other specified waters currently related to the transport of interstate or foreign commerce.