Dredge and Fill Regulations. The Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (RHA) grants
authority for the control of structures in navigable waters to the Secretary of the Army
and, through delegation, to the Corps of Engineers. Under the command of the Chief of
Engineers, the Corps of Engineers administers the civil functions of the Department of
the Army. The administrative organization of the Corps of Engineers for the United
States and its possessions consists of 11 "divisions" and 36 "districts" based on
watershed boundaries of principal rivers or other hydrologic boundary limits. Each
Division, headed by a Division Engineer, is subdivided into Districts headed by District
Engineers. District Engineers are responsible for all Federal civil works functions
within the boundaries of their respective Districts and report to the appropriate
Division Engineer. Division Engineers are similarly responsible for civil works
functions within their Divisions and report to the Chief of Engineers in Washington, DC.
The two major types of activities which are regulated by the Corps are
construction work or structure in navigable waters and discharges of dredge or fill
material into waters of the United States.
Obstruction or Alteration. Section 10 of the RHA prohibits the unauthorized
obstruction or alteration of any navigable water of the United States. The construction
of any structure in or over any navigable water of the United States, the excavation
from or depositing of material in such waters, or the accomplishment of any other work
affecting the course, location, condition, or capacity of such waters are unlawful
unless the work has been recommended by the Chief of Engineers and authorized by the
Secretary of the Army.