Dredging Umbrella Permits

It is anticipated that the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will perform a full dredge of the San Rafael Channel in summer 2022. Read the recent City news release re: San Rafael's inclusion in the 2022 President's Budget.

The USACE is only responsible for dredging the Federal Channel (which does not extend to private docks and marinas). Private property owners are responsible for dredging from their private docks up to the Federal Channel which is in the center of the Canal.

However, since the USACE is providing for mobilization of the dredging contractor, it will be cost effective for waterfront property owners to have their private docks dredged by the USACE contractor, in conjunction with the USACE Federal Channel dredging.

Property owners wanting to do this “piggybacking” on the USACE summer 2022 dredging for their private dredging will need permits from regulatory agencies and a separate agreement with the USACE dredging contractor in advanced. To make the permitting process easier and more cost effective for property owners, the City is aggregating waterfront private properties wanting to dredge in summer 2022 under a single Umbrella Permit for review and approval by various SF Bay regulatory agencies.

Since dredging is now anticipating in summer 2022, property owners may still sign up to participate in the Umbrella Permit by filling out the online form below.

For questions on the umbrella permitting process, contact Scott Bodensteiner of Haley & Aldrich at SBodensteiner@haleyaldrich.com.

Click to jump to Umbrella Permits Form

Umbrella Permits FAQ's

During the initial permit acquisition process you will be asked to provide information about your property. It is not anticipated that additional involvement in the permitting process beyond the initial information gathering phase will be necessary.

You may apply as a tenant, however you will ultimately need the permission of the property owner as would be the case with any other property renovation.

Yes, but you will have to navigate the permitting process on your own, and you will not be able to take advantage of the substantially discounted group rate for permits under the Umbrella Permitting process.

The City of San Rafael will be listed as the permitee.

For the permitting process, the participating property owners/tenants will also be responsible (and pay an equal portion) for the cost of retaining a specialized consultant to manage the process. For the dredging, each participating property owner/tenant will contribute a portion of the total fee based on the volume of material present above the target dredge depth in their property’s dredge area.

The City of San Rafael does not have dredging permitting expertise on staff, as the process is something the City has engaged in only twice in the past 25 years. A firm with expertise facilitating the maintenance dredging permitting process is necessary to ensure all permits and approvals are in place when the USACE initiates their dredging project. The cost of retaining the firm will be equally split between dock owners/tenants which participate in the Umbrella Permitting process.

Once approved, maintenance dredging permits are good for 10 years.

Yes, you may not perform dredging operations in and around a private dock without a valid permit.

Yes, the City and the firm will follow up with participating dock owners/tenants at a later date once the USACE dredging contract has been awarded.

Property owners with contaminated material in the sediment around their private dock/marina are responsible for the cost of disposing that material. Disposing of contaminated dredge material is more costly that disposing of clean dredge material. If the USACE detects higher than acceptable contaminant concentrations in the Federal Channel near the dredge area of a participating dock-owner, that dock owner will be grouped with other dock-owners with the same predicament to share the cost of disposing the contaminated sediment. It is recommended that dock owners near portions of the Federal Channel with elevated contamination perform their own sediment testing to determine whether their private property sediment has lower contaminant concentrations than the USACE sediments, and therefore may not require specialized disposal. The cost of the dockface sediment testing will be incurred by the individual property owner/tenant. However, because this testing will involve only the contaminant(s) observed at elevated concentrations in the Federal Channel, the cost will be significantly less than what would be required without the USACE testing data.

The permitting process will take approximately one year.

You may contact Scott Bodensteiner, Program Manager with Haley & Aldrich at SBodensteiner@haleyaldrich.com.

It would be advisable to review your current permits to determine when they expire. If there are still three or more years on the permit, then, assuming the USACE initiates the federal channel dredging within three years, you will not need a new permit through the Umbrella Permitting process. Those permits can be used to participate in the umbrella dredging episode to be performed in conjunction with the USACE dredging. If your individual permits expire in less than three years and you choose to not participate in the Umbrella Permitting process, then you may have an expired permit and unable to dredge at the time of the USACE dredge episode.

The permitting agencies include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), the Regional Water Quality Control Board, California Fish and Wildlife, and the City of San Rafael.

The primary maintenance dredging permits to be acquired under the umbrella permit process are good for 10 years, so a delay in USACE funding will not require significantly more expenditures. Renewal of the City permits may be necessary, but this will not require significant effort.

The umbrella permitting cost will be dependent on the number of dredgees. The permitting process will include the acquisition of all permits PLUS the sediment quality approval. The future umbrella DREDGE CONTRACTOR cost will be based on the amount of dredge material and will be split between between all permitted dredgees.

There is a pro in this approach if a HOA or property owner wants to undertake the dredging on their own without piggybacking on the Corps dredging of the federal channel with the other dock owners on the Canal.

If a dredging contractor was doing your dredging independently, they would probably do the permitting at a lower cost. However, this also comes with the con that assumes a stand alone project would result in a higher cost for the dredging (due to mobilization costs) compared to the shared cost of piggyback dredging, so presumably the overall cost would be higher than the City’s umbrella approach. The other con is that due to a number of new regulatory requirements, the permit acquisition process in now more complicated than it was in 2012. Dredging contractors often specialize in dredging whereas the City’s umbrella permitting consultant (Haley & Aldrich) specializes in understanding the regulator expectations and the permitting process. The technical aspects of the sediment quality approval necessary under the permits will also be different and more challenging now too.

The City is working with the USACE so that the dock owners can “piggyback” on the main channel project using the same contractor that the USACE uses, which will result in both scale savings and savings associated with the elimination of mobilization cost.

Yes. The City is working with the USACE so that the dock owners can “piggyback” on the main channel project using the same contractor that the USACE uses, which will result in both scale savings and savings associated with the elimination of mobilization cost.

The USACE pulls their own permits, but will rely on a consultant for their sediment quality approval. They have not selected that consultant yet.

The City wanted to start the permit process now so that dock owners would be cleared to dredge when the USACE started. The FY2021 Work Plan began on Oct. 1. It is still not clear whether they will have funding available after the Work Plan’s priority projects (i.e. Oakland and Richmond Harbors) are completed. If they do have funding for the Canal in 2021, they would dredge the dock owners immediately afterward (same year), and potentially simultaneously as they work their way down the Canal. So there is still potential for the dredging to occur in 2021 although likely it will be in 2022. Either way it would be difficult (probably impossible) to get an individual dock owner added to the permit after the USACE hires a contractor in time for them to be included with the “piggyback” dredging. Docks attached to homes that come under new ownership would stay permitted. The new owners would simply have to sign an affidavit indicating they want to remain on the permits.

Permit acquisition would not be affected by any detected contamination, but the sediment quality approval required by the permits would be. Yes, any homeowners near areas in the main channel that the USACE testing shows to be contaminated would be responsible for additional testing near the dock that would hopefully show the contamination does not extend to the dock dredge area. In this scenario, the strategy would be to test for just the contaminant identified by the USACE testing so that the individual homeowner testing cost would be minimized (1 or 2 contaminants vs. the 158 contaminants required for stand-alone projects).

That is correct. The sediment quality approval process under the umbrella permit would take advantage of a testing exemption allowed for in the EPA guidelines that allows for a report to filed referencing the USACE testing results. This exemption report is included in the umbrella permit cost. However, if USACE finds contamination in the main channel near a residential dock, then some testing would be needed.

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