Congressional Clarification Needed on Eligibility for Waivers of Non-Federal Contributions for Dredged Material Confined Disposal Areas

CED-77-135: Published: Oct 21, 1977. Publicly Released: Oct 21, 1977.

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The Corps of Engineers dredges the Nation's channels and harbors in maintaining navigable waterways. Under legislation authorizing the construction of facilities for dredged material, the Federal Government pays 75 percent of construction costs for disposal of dredged materials and local interests pay 25 percent unless they receive a waiver based on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) finding that certain conditions are being met, including a determination that applicable water standards are not being violated.

As of June 30, 1977, the Corps' plans called for construction of 48 confined-disposal facilities on the Great Lakes costing about $263 million. Local contribution waivers were granted for 31 of the 48 facilities. EPA interprets the legislation to mean that non-Federal interests are eligible for waivers if they are in compliance with a pollution discharge permit since the legislation demonstrates that obtaining a discharge permit is the legal equivalent of not violating water quality standards. The legislation can also be interpreted to require the Agency to certify that applicable water quality standards (including water quality criteria) are not being violated as a prerequisite to granting the waivers. This interpretation would not have allowed as many waivers involving millions of dollars.

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