The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District, staff finalized last week a standard operating procedure (SOP) for evaluating permit applications along the Sabine-Neches Waterway (SNWW).
According to Kimberly Baggette, chief of the USACE Galveston District’s Regulatory Division, the request to establish a SOP for evaluating permit applications along the SNWW was initiated by experts from the United States Coast Guard, Sabine-Neches Navigation District, Sabine Pilots Association, Texas Department of Transportation and the USACE Galveston District’s resident experts.
The SOP established both a standard setback as well as hazard zones designed to ensure that no structures or fill would encroach on the federal navigation channel.
Staff identifies the standard setback as the distance that a structure must be “set back” from the edge of the channel to ensure there are no encroachments in the navigable channel to support safe transportation and maintain sufficient clearance for dredging the channel.
Hazard zones are areas shoreward of the standard setback that are narrow where structures or fill would have a higher probability of interfering with navigation.
“With increased development along the SNWW, it is imperative that we develop a predictable and repeatable policy for authorizing structures along the SNWW to maintain the compatibility of these important functions,” said Baggette. “To do this, we established setbacks from the SNWW channel where structures could be placed without interfering with navigation on the SNWW and identified areas of concern where a heightened permit evaluation was necessary.”
Baggette stated that the proposed policy is not designed to dissuade or impede construction along the SNWW and that staff won’t be issuing letters of non-compliance to any structure constructed inside the setback that are in compliance with an authorized permit (permitted prior to the proposed changes).