Memphis District Section 408

The Program

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Section 408 program allows another party, such as a local government, company, or individual, to alter a USACE Civil Works project. Given the widespread locations of these projects, many embedded within communities, over time there may be a need to either alter or occupy these projects and their associated lands. Reasons for alterations could include improvements to the projects, relocation of part of the project, or installing utilities or other non-project features.
Examples of projects that need USACE Section 408 permission include:
  • Running a water main from one side of a levee to the other.
  • Adding hydropower to a dam.
  • Building a bridge across a navigable waterway maintained and surveyed by USACE.
  • Building a swimming pool in a backyard, within the footprint of the USACE easement for a levee.
The Section 408 program verifies that changes to authorized USACE Civil Works projects will not be injurious to the public interest and will not impair the usefulness of the project.
This requirement was established in Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, which has since been amended several times, and is codified at 33 U.S.C. 408–the section of U.S. Code that gives the program its name.

Contact Information

Section 408 Coordinator

(901) 544-0897

Section 408 Permission

A Section 408 permission is required when altering a Federal project. The authority to grant permission for temporary or permanent alteration is contained in Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 and codified in 33 USC 408 (Section 408). The purpose of the Section 408 review is to ensure proposed alterations to federal projects do not compromise the original purpose of the federal project or increase life safety risks.  
The process for review and approval of all requests to modify, alter, or occupy any existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works projects is described below. Engineering Circular 1165-2-220, Policy and Procedural Guidance for Processing Requests to Alter US Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Projects Pursuant to 33 USC 408, provides the procedural guidance that the Memphis District follows in processing Section 408 requests for civil works projects that were constructed with federal funds.
Civil works projects include levees, flood reduction channels, navigation channels, and any other flood risk management, navigation, recreation, infrastructure and environmental stewardship projects constructed or planned by the Corps of Engineers. 
Additional Section 408 information, including the Engineering Circular 1165-2-220, can be accessed via the Headquarters Section 408 Site.

Permissions Process Steps

1. Communication and Pre-Coordination:  The Section 408 Coordinator is the public’s contact for processing Section 408 permissions.  All communication must go through the Section 408 Coordinator who will coordinate the review and provide final decisions to the applicant.  The Section 408 Coordinator contact information is provided on this page. Early communication and pre-coordination with the Memphis District, and the non-federal local sponsor who has operation and maintenance responsibilities, is critical to ensure a timely and efficient review.
2. Section 408 Submission Request: A Section 408 request is submitted by private, public, tribal, or other non-federal entities to the Memphis District Section 408 Coordinator.  The requestor must submit a Section 408 request application form to the Memphis District.  The form is available through the Section 408 Coordinator.  Documentation must be provided with the application providing information showing project intent which includes complete description of work and a specified level of details (partial plans & specs) necessary for review.  Please contact the Section 408 Coordinator if unsure whether a Section 408 permissions is required.
3. Submittal Links: In order to facilitate the synchronization of USACE, Memphis District Regulatory Program (Section 10/404 reviews) and the Section 408 Program reviews, requestors should provide a single submittal that includes both the Section 10/404 application and the request for the Section 408 permission to the email address:  Once received the requestor will be contacted verifying receipt of the documents and provided additional information.

Process Steps Continued

4. Request Review: A Section 408 review includes an engineering, environmental, real estate and legal review to ensure the alteration does not impair the usefulness of the federal project and is not injurious to the public’s interest. USACE procedures for reviewing requests for Section 408 permission is contained in Engineering Circular 1165-2-220.  The levee system sponsor’s will be involved with decisions on any project proposed on or near the levee systems.
5. Approval:  The Memphis District Engineer or his designee has the authority to approve minor, low impact alterations or modifications to the civil works projects; however, some requests which involve significant impact to the civil works feature such as levee raises, realignments, and temporary degradation of life safety measures may need Headquarter approval.
6. Oversight Post-Permission: After permission approval, the requester will provide the Section 408 Coordinator written notification of intent at least ten (10) days prior to the start of construction.  The requester is responsible for construction oversight to ensure construction is performed per the approved plans and specifications submitted for Section 408 review.  USACE will provide some oversight to monitor construction.  The level of monitoring will be commensurate with the complexity of the alteration.  Final As-Built documentation must be submitted to USACE upon construction completion.

Getting Started

If you are looking for information about how to navigate the Section 408 program, these resources are for you. During the program’s Summer 2022 Listening Session Series, stakeholders and Section 408 coordinators from USACE districts across the country asked for tools to help guide them through the ins and outs of seeking permission to alter a USACE Civil Works project—especially for those who are new or unfamiliar with program processes.
The following materials were designed with this feedback in mind:
  • Section 408 & You – An overview of Section 408 and the process of seeking a permission.
  • Section 408 Process Guide – An in-depth guide to the program and the process of seeking permission to alter a Civil Works project from start to finish.

Additional Information

  • Engineer Circular (EC) 1165-2-220: USACE Policy and Procedural Guidance for Processing Requests to Alter U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Projects Pursuant To 33 USC 408