Environmental Services - Permitting and Mitigation

The permitting process is concluded prior to the obligation of construction funds.

Section 404 permits are obtained from the USACE for projects that require fill material in jurisdictional waters of the U.S.

  • General Permit (GP) - The SCDOT maintains a GP that authorizes the discharge of dredge and/or fill material in waters of the U.S. for the construction, expansion, modification, or improvement of existing linear transportation projects. Impacts cannot exceed 3.0 acres of freshwater wetlands, 0.5 acres of tidal wetlands, or 300 linear feet of stream. Section 401 Water Quality Certification is part of the GP.
  • Nationwide Permit (NWP) - The most common NWPs used by SCDOT are the NWP 3 for maintenance and the NWP 14 for linear transportation projects. The NWP authorizes up to 0.5 acres of fill in freshwaters, 0.3 acres in tidal waters, and 300 linear feet in streams. Section 401 Water Quality Certification is part of the NWP.
  • Individual Permits (IPs) - Required for projects that do not fall under a NWP or GP. IPs have a public notice component and are awarded based on the outcome of a public interest balancing process where the benefits of the project are balanced against the detriments. Section 401 Water Quality Certification is a separate process (through SCDHEC) for IPs.
  • Section 401 Water Quality Certification is required for any project that requires a federal permit. It may be required in such cases when the project directly discharges runoff to an impaired waterbody.
  • Projects within the Coastal Zone but not within a Critical Area require a Coastal Zone Consistency (CZC) Certification. This certification is typically obtained during the 401 Certification process.
  • Projects that are within a Critical Area require a Critical Area Permit.
  • SCDOT maintains a General Permit for Construction in Navigable Waters (NavGP), which is required for any construction, dredging, filling, or alteration activity in, over, or under South Carolina Navigable Waters. This permit may be required even when a USACE Section 404 permit is not required.
  • Construction projects that directly discharge stormwater to a 303(d)-listed (impaired) waterbody or to a waterbody for which a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) has been established and is in effect must comply with the requirements of the latest version of the NPDES General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from SCDOT Construction Activities. SCDHEC receives a Notice of Intent (NOI) of work to be performed under the SCDOT NPDES Permit for projects disturbing greater than or equal to 1 acre of land (or greater than or equal to 0.5 acres in a Coastal Zone). The NOI is handled by SCDOT Hydrology prior to project letting. ESO completes only Section Five of the NOI form.

The USACE reviews projects to ensure environmental impacts to aquatic resources are avoided or minimized as much as possible. Consistent with the administration's goal of "no net loss of wetlands," a USACE permit may require the SCDOT to restore, establish, enhance, or preserve other aquatic resources in order to replace those impacted by a transportation project. This Compensatory Mitigation process seeks to replace the loss of existing aquatic resource functions and area. The USACE determines the appropriate form and amount of required compensatory mitigation.