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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions


How do I contact the Corps of Engineers Detroit District Regulatory Office?

Our toll free number is 1-888-694-8313 and our address is U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Regulatory Office, 477 Michigan Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48226-2550.

What gives the Corps the authority to regulate waters on my property?

Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 provides the Corps with jurisdiction over work waterward of the Ordinary High Water Mark of navigable waters.  Section 404 of the Clean Water Act gives the Corps jurisdiction over discharges of fill material in waters of the United States including wetlands.

How do I know which application I need to fill out?

You can start with either a jurisdiction determination (JD) request or a permit application (state specific).  In most cases the Corps of Engineers will accept a state application or the Corps application.   If any information is missing we will contact you to get the information that is needed to complete the application.  We recommend you contact our office to determine if a pre-application meeting would be beneficial to you.

What are some common activities that may require a permit?

 Common activities include constructing piers, bulkheads (seawalls) or other types of shore protection, beach grooming, dredging, wetland fill, and others.  If you have any questions about whether the work you are planning will require permits we recommend that you call our office.

What is a jurisdictional determination (JD) and why would I need one?

 A jurisdictional determination (JD) is how we determine whether a wetland or body of water is regulated by the Corps of Engineers.  Some jurisdiction determinations are completed from the office, others require a visit to the site.  We complete a jurisdiction determination for each permit application.  A jurisdiction determination is also for an owner to determine whether a permit is needed for specific work or on a particular piece of property.

How long does it take the Corps to do a jurisdictional determination (JD) on my property? Do I have to have a JD done before I send in my permit application?

 Depending on our workload it will take a couple weeks to a couple months for the Corps to complete a JD on your property.  A JD does not have to be completed before submitting a permit application.

When I bought my property 10 years ago it already had a dock. No one told me I needed a permit for it. Do I need to get one now?

 Yes, we recommend you fill out a permit application and submit it to our office. 

Why do I need to get a permit from both MDEQ and Corps?

 The State and Federal government maintain jurisdiction over many waters.  In Michigan the Federal government has transferred jurisdiction of inland waters to the State of Michigan.  In most cases, in these areas you will only be required to obtain a permit from the State.  Michigan is one of two states in the country to have been transferred this Federal jurisdiction.

Where do I find the Corps technical documents?

We have just updated our website to include a “Sourcebook”.  It is located on the front page of our site and contains the Regulations and technical documents that we use.  If you cannot find something in this Sourcebook please contact our office and we can help you.

What will happen if I do work without obtaining a permit from the Corps of Engineers?

 Performing unauthorized work in waters of the United States or failure to comply with the terms of a valid permit can have serious consequences.  You would be in violation of Federal law and could face stiff penalties, including fines and/or requirements to restore the area. 

Enforcement is an important part of the Corps regulatory program.  Corps surveillance and monitoring activities are often aided by various agencies, groups, and individuals who report suspected violations.  When in doubt as to whether a planned activity needs a permit, contact the nearest district regulatory office.