Volume 25, Number 9    May 3, 2017

NWP/SPGP Seminar Success!
Engineers Need to Review Design Change

WSSI scientist handling a wood turtle.

The Nationwide Permit (NWP) and Virginia State Programmatic General Permit (SPGP) educational seminar was a huge success!  Members of the regulated community gathered at WSSI to discuss the 2017 NWP and Virginia SPGP programs and associated changes with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) (Headquarters and Norfolk) and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Engineers, please review the new rules for the design of pipes and culverts below.

Please click here to view the presentations and video recording of the seminar. 

In case you missed the seminar, below are the key take-away points:

SPGPs expire May 31, 2017 – What should you do?

12-SPGP-01 one-year extensions

  • Activities which are under construction or are under contract to commence construction prior to May 31, 2017, may continue work under the previously authorized 12-SPGP-01 until May 31, 2018.
    • DEQ issues the SPGPs on behalf of the COE and has requested Permittees do not request written verification of a one-year extension as the extension is automatic per the 12-SPGP-01 conditions. The Permittee is responsible for providing evidence of the construction contract if requested during a site visit. 
    • WSSI recommends Permittees send a letter to their environmental lawyer and/or environmental consultant to document evidence of the construction contract (design contracts are not sufficient) or pictures showing that you were under construction prior to May 31, 2017 for their file in case you are challenged.
  • If work in authorized impact areas will not be completed by May 31, 2018, you must apply for reverification under the 17-SPGP-01.

17-SPGP-01 Reverification

  • If your project will not have commenced construction or will not be under contract to commence construction by May 31, 2017, no work in jurisdictional wetlands or Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) can occur after May 31, 2017 until you obtain coverage under the 17-SPGP-01.
  • If your project is currently authorized under a 12-SPGP-01 and you will need reverification under the 17-SPGP-01, you must submit the following: 
    • Signed Authorization letter – DEQ is currently drafting a template letter for Permittees to sign requesting reverification of the previously authorized project. 
    • Impact Table – Impact table totaling impacts to all WOTUS, including stream channels, in acreage and linear foot. 
    • Endangered and Threatened Species and Historic Resources – Updated information relating to endangered and threatened species and historic resources.  
  • WSSI will keep you posted once the conditions are finalized and can assist you in submitting reverification requests.
  • If your plan has changed (potentially altering impact quantities, locations, project boundaries, etc.) since the most recent permit issuance, please contact WSSI to determine if the changes require a Virginia Water Protection (VWP) Permit modification or notice of planned changed, or if a new VWP permit will be required.

New rules for the design of pipes and culverts – Engineers beware!!

Design change

  • Countersunk culverts (3” for ≤ 24” diameter and 6” for > 24” diameter) and low flow culverts (for multiple culvert crossings) are still required – but now a surface water channel must be re-established. Click here for an example detail and renderings.
  • Condition #25(B) (page 13) is proposed to require that Permittees “ensure re-establishment of a surface water channel (within 15 days post-construction) that allows for movement of aquatic organisms and maintains the same hydrologic regime that was present pre-construction (i.e., the depth of the surface water though the permit area should match the upstream and downstream depths).” 
  • This means that the “traditional” rip rap culvert inlets/outlets must be installed with a “bedmix” containing gravels, sands and fines to fill in the rip rap voids to cause flows to run on top of the rip rap versus in its voids – since only in high sediment load streams would nature fill huge voids within 15 days of installation. 
Stream with rip rap bedmix

Stream with rip rap bedmix

Outlet with "clean rip rap"

Outlet with "clean rip rap"


Inspection Issues

  • It is not yet clear how Permittees will reconcile this revised condition with County and VDOT inspection requirements.  Even this month, on a local project, inspectors at bond release are asking for “clean riprap” – no sediments and no plants.

Scour Issue

  • It is not clear if engineers will need to design culverts such that deposited bed material does not scour out of the culvert during “storm events”.
  • While finer materials can be placed in the rip rap apron, deposition of stream bed material will still be scoured out in the larger storm events if designed with traditionally accepted velocities.  Preventing such scour would require considerably larger culverts. 


Public Works agencies, land owners/developers, builders, engineers, environmental scientists, and contractors should assess the proposed Virginia SPGP changes and submit comments by May 11, 2017.  Please submit comments by email or mail:

USACE Norfolk District
Warrenton Field Office
ATTN: Anna Lawston
PO Box 578
Amissville, Virginia 20106

If you have questions regarding the seminar or how Virginia SPGP expirations may affect your project, please contact Annie Colturi, Doug Chapin, Christie Blevins, Mark Headly, or Mike Rolband

Check out past issues in the Field Notes Archive.

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