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    Alternatives Analysis

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    This video is an introduction to Alternatives Analysis. For detailed information on this topic please visit the US Army Corps of Engineers' website.

    The Corps’ regulatory program requires applicants to demonstrate that a proposed project to dredge and/or fill waters of the United States is the “least environmentally damaging practical alternative” to achieve the project’s purpose. We refer to this as the LEDPA. To meet this requirement, the applicant conducts an alternatives analysis as required by the Clean Water Act, Section 404(b)(1).

    Under this requirement, a project must be both practical and the least environmentally damaging alternative. There must be an attempt to avoid impacts rather than compensate for them.

    Let’s look at an example of an alternative analysis. An applicant proposes a 20,000-square-foot grocery store with a parking lot on site A. His range of alternatives included three alternate locations for the grocery store – sites B, C and D. Upon reviewing the applicant’s original range of alternatives, the Corps determined the applicant needed to provide additional alternatives. Specifically, the Corps asked the applicant to consider moving the project to site B and minimizing impacts through a smaller building, and an elevated parking structure. Upon analysis, the Corps determined the LEDPA was an 18,000-square-foot building with an on-grade parking lot, located on site B. In this example, the criteria used to determine the practicality of alternatives included land cost, percentage of wetlands, proximity to major roads, parking structure cost and market demand.

    So, as a project purpose is identified, the applicant develops a range of alternatives, including the alternative specified in the permit application. Additional alternatives may also develop during project review and will also be evaluated. The Least Environmentally Damaging Practical Alternative, or LEDPA, will be determined from this range. Specific criteria are also developed, to use in determining the practicality of alternatives and eliminating the non-practical alternatives. This is what we call the alternatives analysis.

    The permit applicant must provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the proposed project is the LEDPA. The applicant must also show that there are no practical alternatives, including non-aquatic, to the proposed discharge.

    A non water-dependent project means the project does not need to be located near a water body to achieve its purpose. For example, non water-dependent projects include grocery stores or housing subdivisions. So when an applicant proposes placing a grocery store in an aquatic resource, the Corps presumes that practical alternatives do exist.

    Conversely, when a project is water dependent like a marina or a boat ramp, it requires proximity to an aquatic resource to achieve the basic project purpose. In this case, the Corps presumes that practical alternatives do not exist.

    This alternative analysis is most effective when it is addressed by the permit applicant before the application is submitted. The Corps will only consider practical alternatives. “Practical alternatives” are those that are available and capable of being done after considering cost, existing technology and logistics in light of the overall project purpose. Please also refer to the video on Clean Water Act Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines for further information on practical alternatives.

    While the applicant bears the burden of demonstrating that no less environmentally damaging practical alternative is available, the Corps determines whether the LEDPA has been selected. The Corps is neither a proponent nor opponent of any permit proposal.

    Once the LEDPA is determined, the applicant must take all appropriate and practical steps to minimize the potential adverse impacts on the aquatic environment.

    The mitigation sequence is the same as it is for all projects that impact aquatic resources – first, avoid impacts; then minimize impacts to the greatest extent possible; and finally compensate for the impacts.
    As with every other aspect of the Corps regulatory program, the alternatives analysis component must be fair, balanced and objective.

    When each proposed project is reviewed under these guidelines, the resulting projects have a greater inclination to be protective of the environment. This supports reasonable development and economic benefits, providing a more sustainable environment for our future.

    [Footnote]: Before beginning any project in waters of the United States, be sure to find out if a Department of the Army permit is required. While this video attempts to give a general overview of the regulatory process, viewers should refer to the actual laws, regulations and guidance for complete and current information.



    Date Taken: 07.12.2012
    Date Posted: 07.12.2012 10:42
    Category: Package
    Video ID: 148989
    VIRIN: 120712-A-#####-659
    Filename: DOD_100440019
    Length: 00:07:01
    Location: FL, US

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