Permits are required by law for construction projects that fill streams or wetlands and for discharge of waste into waterways. These permits are issued by state or federal agencies, and there are opportunties to weigh in on how the permits are written. This page has materials on how to track permit applications and how to effectively comment on them. Effective comments can

 * reduce environmental harm
 * bring the community voice into decision-making, and
 * establish standing in case of future litigation.


The Hoosier Environmental Council recorded two training webinars on how to watchdog water and wetland permits. This task is well suited to the staff member or volunteer who is detail oriented and willing to spend time on the computer digging through documents. The watchdogging effort is worthwhile because it can push the state and federal agencies to consider community concerns and write a permit with more environmental benefits. These webinars cover

  1. the basics of the water regulatory processes,
  2. how to track the permits,
  3. how to prioritize which permits to comment on, and
  4. how to draft effective public comments on permit applications.

Webinar I: How to Watchdog Wetland and Water Permits

Webinar I slides

Webinar II: How to Draft Effective Comments on Wetland and Water Permits

Webinar II slides

Example comments

Useful Resources

The HEC Citizen Guide to Watchdogging Water and Wetland Permits

CWA Jurisdiction Following Rapanos v US and Carabell v US 12-02-08

Permit notices:

Indiana Dept of Environmental Management (IDEM) public notices

Indiana Dept of Natural Resources (IDNR) public notices

Map of US Army Corps Districts in Indiana

US Army Corps Louisville District

US Army Corps Detroit District

US Army Corps Chicago District

US Army Corps of Engineers resources:

1987 Corps Wetland Delineation Manual
Army Corps Midwest Supplement to the Wetland Delineation Manual
Corps’ Regulations Related to 404 Permitting

Corps’ District-Specific processes for obtaining a 404 permit

Useful webpages:

Indiana Dept of Environmental Management (IDEM) website on wetlands, lake, and stream regulation

Google Earth imagery

US Geologic Survey Topo Maps

US National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Web Soil Survey

US Fish and Wildlife (USFW) National Wetland Inventory