Obtaining Permission to Use USACE Disposal Areas



For use of placement areas adjacent to or within the NC National Estuarine Research Reserve (i.e., Rachel Carson, Beaufort, NC; Masonsboro Island, Wilmington, NC; Bird Island, Sunset Beach, NC), please first contact the Coastal Reserve Program Manager (252-838-0883) to obtain permission for utilizing these areas for placement of material. As the underlying property owner, the NC National Estuarine Research Reserve will need to provide written approval for your project, before the Corps can consider any consent application. We recommend you do not begin the consent process until this permission is obtained.


When do you need to get permission to use a USACE Disposal area?

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) must provide written permission for the specific use of land or water bodies located within the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AIWW) right-of-way or other USACE rights-of-way.  Activities requiring permission consist of, but are not limited to, the following:  1) the construction of a building, boat ramp, wall, tower, road, gazebo, or any other temporary or permanent structure, 2) the construction of a bridge, utility system, or any other temporary or permanent structure beneath, over, across a USASE right-of-way, or 3) disposal of dredged materials within a USACE right-of-way or within a USACE owned or managed dredge materials disposal facility (most common). 

Disposal facilities for the placement of dredge spoil are very limited in number and storage capacity.  All USACE disposal facilities are named using an identifying number.  To determine if the disposal area number along the AIWW, please review the Navigation Basemap for use in Google Earth.

How to go about getting approval to use a Disposal Area

Requests for permission to use a Disposal Area shall be made 60 calendar days prior to the first expected dredging event of the project.  The document will be valid for 1 dredge cycle (1 calendar year).  There is a fee assessed by Wilmington District, which is associated with the processing and execution of the document, SAW Operational Fee ($5,850).  Permission can be granted at any time during the year, but are only valid between August 1st and July 31st.  This gives the requestor use of the disposal island for one full dredge cycle (typically September through March, but this time period varies depending on location and environmental windows).  

What is Required?

  • A pre-work and post-work site visit is required and must be attended by USACE personnel.
  • A soil sample of the material to be dredged will need to be collected and tested.  A composite sample is the easiest way to do this by collecting grab samples at locations around the dredge area and combining them into one sample to be tested.  The larger the job the more samples that will have to be tested.
  • A hydrographic survey will have to be performed of the area to be dredged before and after dredging has occurred.  All volume quantity estimates are calculated based on the hydrographic survey data.
  • A pre-work and post-work survey of the disposal area used during dredge operations.
  • A Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) permit will also have to be obtained.
  • There is a $5.00 per cubic yard charge for disposal of dredge material based on the hydrographic surveys. 
  • A W-9 form that gives you Tax ID number.  This form can be downloaded from the IRS website 

What is needed to apply for use of a Disposal Area?

1) Contact a member of the USACE Wilmington District office (call or Email) if you need to discuss your dredging and/or disposal needs.

Contact Information 

Land Use Coordinator

(910) 251-4196

Chief of Geospatial Services

(910) 251-4067

Chief of Navigation

(910) 251-4822


2) Download and review the following guidelines.  These will helpful when performing your soil sample collection and testing.

            a.  Guidelines for Evaluation of Dredged Material 
            b.  Factors to Consider in Evaluating the Potential for Contamination of Sediments to be Dredged
            c.  Sediment Testing Guidelines 

3) Download the Dredging Packet Checklist.  The checklist provides a list of items that need to be sent to the Corps of Engineers for review.

                 Dredging Packet Checklist. 

      Items to be provided include:           

  •     Survey of the area to be dredged.
  •     Survey of the Placement or Disposal Area where material is to be placed.
  •     Sediment sample analysis.
  •     Map showing where the sediment samples were collected
  •     Copy of your CAMA permit and your CAMA contact information. If a permit has not been granted, then submit a copy of your CAMA application.
  •     A check made out to "FAO, USAED, Wilmington" for the estimated amount of dredge material to be removed multiplied by $5.00.
  •     A check made out to "FAO, USAED, Wilmington" for the SAW Operational Fee of $5850.00
  •     Volume quantity calculations for material to be dredged and capacity of the disposal area.
  •     Letter giving permission to use the disposal area from the underlying property owner (does not apply if using Eagle Island disposal area in Wilmington).
  •     Include the Tax ID number for the entity initiating the dredging action using the W-9 form that is downloadable from the IRS website.
  •     ONE digital and ONE paper copy of all of the above.

4) Use the Navigation Basemap for use in Google Earth to determine the Placement or Disposal Area, and its number, where you would like to deposit dredge materials.

All of these items make up your packet.  Please mail or Email this packet to the Wilmington District Office at least 60 calendar days prior to beginning your dredging project.  Do not mail or email in your packet until you have everything in hand, and then submit it all at the same time.  Packets cannot be processed until all the information has been received.

Mail your packet to:

US Army Corps of Engineers
Land Use Coordinator
69 Darlington Ave
Wilmington, NC 28403

Or Email packets to:


Once the Packet has been received, our staff will review it for approval.  If approved, a copy of the permission document will be mailed to you for signature. 

Once the Permission Document has been signed and returned with all fees, the project may begin.


What is needed after the project is completed?

Once the dredging and disposal project is completed, the requestor will need to submit three more items to finish the agreement.

Please budget for these from the start of your project as they are required and often over looked by the requestor.  Failure to provide these items and properly these items could result in legal action against the requestor and will prohibit the issuance of any future Approvals for use of disposal areas.

It is also included on the checklist that can be downloaded above.

  • Survey of the area that was dredged.
  • Survey of the Placement or Disposal Area where the materials were placed.
  • Final dredge quantities based on the volume differences between the pre- and post-dredge hydrographic surveys. 


What usually slows/holds up getting permission to use the Disposal Area?

Sand/Soil Samples Testing - Testing of sand/soil samples can take up to 3 weeks depending on which firm is performing the testing and how many samples they have to analyze.  We recommend that you provide the company, that will be collecting and performing the soil sample analysis, a copy of our Sediment Testing Guidelines and Factors to Consider in Evaluating the Potential for Contamination of Sediments to be Dredged questionnaire to ensure the correct soil sample collection and testing methods are utilized.  Soil Sample collections and tests can be used for 3 years. Tests older than 3 years will not be considered.

Permitting - Acquiring a permit from CAMA can take several weeks.

Underlying Property Owner Permissions - Determining the underlying property owner of a placement or disposal area and obtaining the permission to deposit material can take some time.  In most cases, the State of North Carolina will be the underlying property owner, but it some cases private individuals are the property owners.  If the State of North Carolina is the underlying property owner, your CAMA permit will suffice as their disposal permission.  Written permission from the owner is required for use of privately owned land.

Hydrographic Surveys - A hydrographic survey has to be obtained of the area to be dredged and the disposal area where material is to be placed.  Depending upon contractor, this work can some take time to schedule and perform.

Environmental Windows or Restrictions - There are environmental restriction windows that apply to both dredging and disposal areas.  These windows are a result of a variety of environmental and natural resources issues, such as bird nesting, sea turtle nesting and migration, Endangered Species habitats, spawning seasons, etc.  These can be obtained by contacting CAMA.


Ways to speed up the Approval process   

The best way to speed up the time it takes to get approved is to have ALL of the above items completed or in the works before you apply for approval to use the disposal area.  First, contact CAMA to apply for a permit and find out what environmental restrictions or windows that may exist for your proposed dredging and disposal areas.  Second, determine who the underlying property owner of the disposal area is and contact them for disposal permission.  If the State of North Carolina is the underlying property owner, your CAMA permit will suffice as their disposal permission.  Third, be sure to plan your dredging event accordingly.  Allow enough time to have all of the above completed prior to the dredging event.  Once your environmental windows have been determined and a dredge date has been arranged, schedule a hydrographic survey and perform the sand/soils sampling and testing as soon as possible.  The sand/soil sample will have to be sent off for analysis and this will take some time.

Approval is only required if material is to be disposed of within the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AIWW) right-of-way.  If disposing of dredge material outside of the right of way, you do not need permission from us to use the disposal area but will need permission to cross our easement, but all CAMA permits still apply.  To determine if the disposal area is located within the AIWW right-of-way, please review the Navigation Google Earth Map.


If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any staff member listed above.