For the more information about water resources in the National Park Service, please visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/water/.


Rivers and Harbors Act

Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act (1899), as amended was the first general legislation giving the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers jurisdiction and authority over the protection of navigable waters. Navigable waters of the Unites States are those waters that are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide and/or are presently used, or have been used in the past, or may be susceptible for use to transport interstate or foreign commerce. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits are required under Section 10 of the Act for structures and/or work in or affecting navigable waters of the United States. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began regulation of wetlands under this act, and then received a much broader grant of jurisdictional authority under the Clean Water Act. Because of the broader geographic reach of "waters of the U.S." jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, Rivers and Harbors Act jurisdiction will usually not be of significance to wetlands regulation in current cases. There are, however, several situations in which Rivers and Harbors Act jurisdiction alone will be available: when an exemption from section 404 coverage applies and when activities, as opposed to waters, are covered by the Rivers and Harbors Act and not the Clean Water Act. For instance, the mooring of a vessel in a bay may require a permit under the Rivers and Harbors Act, but would not under the Clean Water Act.

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Last Updated: March 02, 2012