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Extent of Corps Jurisdiction

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graphic of ACE jurisdiction

There are two broad categories of waters that the Corps has jurisdiction over.



  1. Navigable Waters of the United States
a. Are regulated under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act
b. Are waters that are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide and/or are presently used, or have been used in the past, or may be susceptible for use to transport interstate or foreign commerce
c. In the Alaska District, examples of navigable waters include, but are not limited to, Big Lake, Yukon River, and Cook Inlet.

  1. Waters of the United States
a. are regulated under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act
b. These waters include navigable waters and other parts of the surface water tributary system down to the smallest of streams (e.g., tributary that only contains water after a rain event), lakes, ponds, or other water bodies on those streams, and adjacent wetlands (e.g. sloughs, swamps, and some seasonally flooded areas) if they meet certain criteria.
c. Isolated waters such as old river scars, cutoff sloughs, and abandoned construction and mining pits may also be waters of the United States.

The geographic extent of these waters are divided into three categories.



  1. Tidal waters of the United States
Under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, the extent of Corps jurisdiction in tidal waterways extends shoreward to the mean high water line
Under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, the extent of Corps jurisdiction in tidal waters extends to the high tide line. When adjacent wetlands are present, the geographic limits extend to the delineated limits of the wetland.

  1. Non-tidal waters of the United States
The limit of jurisdiction in non-tidal waters extends to the ordinary high water mark.
When adjacent wetlands are present, the jurisdiction extends beyond the ordinary high water mark to the delineated limit of the adjacent wetlands.

  1. Territorial Seas
The limit of jurisdiction in the territorial seas is measured from the baseline in a seaward direction a distance of three nautical miles.