Clean Water Act Mitigation No Net Loss Analysis

The River Basin Center is assessing stream and wetland mitigation standards of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District.

In 1989, President George H.W. Bush established a national policy of “no net loss” of wetland resources (since interpreted to cover streams and other surface waters). Several tools are used to achieve this policy, most notably the compensatory mitigation program developed pursuant to the Clean Water Act and administered by U.S. Army Corps districts. Under this program, Corps districts develop standards for how many stream and wetland “debits” are required in order to permit impacts such as piping a stream or filling a wetland, and standards for how many “credits” are provided for mitigation activities designed to compensate for these impacts (such as restoring a stream or wetland). These standards must be designed to achieve no net loss of aquatic resource functions (if a functional assessment is not used to calculate debits and credits, the standards must achieve at least a 1:1 ratio for impacted and mitigated linear feet and acres).

The Georgia Environmental Restoration Association has hired the River Basin Center to assess the Corps Savannah District’s compensatory mitigation standards and permit record to determine whether the district is achieving no net loss and, if it is not, develop guidance that will help the district meet this important national policy.

Stream restoration site at the Wahachee Creek mitigation bank in the Upper Savannah Watershed. (c) Mitigation Management, Inc.