In many disasters, waterways are impacted. Floods can destroy bridges, culverts, roadways embankments. Debris can clog streams and rivers. Lakes, ponds, and even wells can become contaminated with hazardous materials. All of the states in Region III have valuable water resources that we need to protect. Some states, such as Virginia, have special issues with groundwater quality. Because of the types of soil, they are particularly sensitive to both contamination and changes in water levels. By diverting a stream near your town, you may save your property, but cause a sinkhole to develop somewhere else! Heavy construction machinery working in streams also causes disturbances to the plants and animals that live there. Before you begin any project, you need to consider whether your recovery action is going to cause more damage than the disaster itself.
There are many guidelines dealing with construction, demolition, etc., near or in water sources. Any action which might result in construction equipment working in water, dumping in water, dredging, filling in any part of surface water tributaries, including small streams, lakes, ponds, stock tanks, construction and mining pits, and wetlands, or any other similar actions, require permits and must be coordinated before work begins. This includes any construction or repair of culverts and bridges. Obtaining permits is the responsibility of the applicant or person performing the work. Unless it is an emergency action, i.e., immediate threat to life or property, coordinating and obtaining permits must be done prior to initiating any site activity.
The following are some of the regulations affecting water sources. Sec. 404 of the Clean Water Act and Sec. 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act. Both are administered by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Water Quality Division (or comparable state agency) protects ground and surface water quality and minimizes existing and potential water contamination from other than hazardous wastes and chemical spills. Notification of spill or breakage to existing systems or facilities for which discharge permits currently exist is required. The DEP Water Quality Division performs all state certifications under Section 401 of Section 402 National Pollution Discharge and Elimination System (NPDES) permits issued by EPA and Section 404 permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
To obtain information on these requirements, including securing permits for this disaster,
Contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, your state DEP Water Division (or comparable agency) or your state Division of Natural Resources.