US Army Corps of Engineers
Rock Island District

District Projects

Section 408 Program

Published March 8, 2019

Program Manager
(309) 794-5208

Rock Island District

The Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 and codified in 33 USC 408 (commonly referred to as “Section 408”) authorizes the Secretary of the Army, on the recommendation of the Chief of Engineers of the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), to grant permission for the alteration or occupation or use of a civil works project provided the Secretary determines that the activity will not be injurious to the public interest and will not impair the usefulness of the project.

On September 10, 2018 the Corps issued a revised Engineer Circular (EC), 1165-2-220, Policy and Procedural Guidance for Processing Requests to Alter U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Projects Pursuant to 33 USC 408.  The EC provides the policies and procedural guidance for an overall review process that can be tailored to the scope, scale and complexity of individual proposed alternations, and provides infrastructure specific considerations for dams, levees, floodwalls, flood risk management channels and navigation projects. 

The revised EC provides clarification on the applicability of Section 408, reduces the number of activities that require Section 408 permission, and improves the overall decision process.  Highlights of the revised EC include: delegation of Section 408 decisions to either the Division or District Commander; requires one agency decisions for cases when a proposed activity requires both a Section 408 and a USACE Regulatory (Section 404/10) decision; elimination of the 60% minimum design requirement for Section 408 decisions; and improved delivery through timelines for reviews and notifications in accordance with the Water Resources Development Act of 2016. Upon receipt of a Section 408 request, USACE has 30-days to make a completeness determination and 90-days to issue a final decision (120-max day max timeline).

It is important to note that all approved alterations must be designed and constructed to applicable Corps design standards. In many cases Corps design standards exceed other federal, state and local requirements. In addition, issuing a Section 408 permission is considered a federal action which requires each proposal to comply with all federal laws including, but not limited to, the National Historic Preservation Act, Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Protection Act.

Actions that do not require permission under Section 408 include routine operation and maintenance activities as allowed by the operation and maintenance manual of non-federal sponsors. Also, actions outside of the lands and real property interests identified and acquired for the Corps civil works projects, or available to the Corps under navigational servitude.

Categorical Permissions
On September 10, 2018, the Rock Island District issued MVR categorical permissions for similar and reoccurring Section 408 requests within the District’s boundaries. A full list of these permissions is located on the District’s Section 408 website. The development of these permissions has improved the overall delivery of Section 408 decisions by completing the necessary technical, environmental, and public interest reviews for these similar types of actions. The District continues to evaluate the categorical permissions’ effectiveness and improve them as needed.

Since 2012, the Rock Island District has performed over 350 Section 408 reviews. Through the Section 408 program and with ongoing cooperation of our local and state partners the District continues to help ensure that the federally constructed civil works projects will continue to operate as designed.

SI - Special Interest
33 USC 408

Summarized Project Costs

Estimated Federal Cost  N/A
Estimated Non-Federal Cost  $86,000
Estimated Total Project Cost  N/A
Allocations Prior to FY 2019  N/A (O&M)
FY 2019 Allocation   $550,000 (est.)
FY 2019 Total Capability  N/A


Major Work Item Current Year
FY 2019:
The Rock Island District has received 19 new Section 408 requests through February of FY 19, and continues to close-out the remaining FY 18 carry over requests. The scope of reviews ranged from those that were low impact, such as installation of power poles, to alterations of national and regional significance, such as the on-going UP Railroad Bridge over the Mississippi and the Green Bay, Iowa comprehensive levee improvements. 14 out of the 19 received requests have fallen within the District’s newly issued categorical permissions. 

In addition to performing reviews, the District continues to work on process improvement through development of the Section 408 and Section 404/10 synchronization plan, and the District performs extensive outreach with governmental and non-governmental organizations on the Section 408 process and requirements.