Powerful treads of excavator drive this earth mover over rough terrain.  Demolition, construction and land grading applications for this image.
Alison Mutton Powerful treads of excavator drive this earth mover over rough terrain. Demolition, construction and land grading applications for this image.

Streamlined clean water permits could be in jeopardy, says the NAHB, causing longer and more expensive project authorization processes for builders.

The Army Corps of Engineers wants to reissue and modify its nationwide permits (NWPs) that would help builders achieve a faster and cheaper authorization process for building, but the elephant in the room is the EPA's proposal to expand its definition of "waters of the United States" (WOTUS) to include channels that flow when it rains, isolated ponds and ditches.

If the EPA's new definition goes into effect, more builders will face the need to obtain individual permits granted by the Corps on a case-by-case basis instead of using an NWP.

Builders and developers rely on NWPs for a much faster and cheaper authorization process: For example, a 2002 study found that it takes an average of 313 days and $28,915 to obtain an NWP, while the average time and cost to secure an individual permit were 788 days and $271,596.

To avoid this undesirable result, NAHB urged the Corps to propose a new rule that limits federal jurisdiction and aligns with the intent of Congress and the rulings of the Supreme Court. And, due to the nationwide stay of the WOTUS rule, NAHB stressed that the Corps should clarify that the rule’s provisions and definitions do not apply to the new NWPs when they are issued.

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