Port of Grays Harbor (POGH) contracted ELS to conduct a “second opinion” review of another consultant’s wetland determination. The previous consultant had determined that an apparent abandoned dewatering ditch located within an approved fill area was a jurisdictional wetland. This determination resulted in significant anxiety and concern for the Port and its client, who needed to start construction quickly on a critical expansion of their project site. The Corps of Engineers’ initial review confirmed the determination of jurisdictional wetlands and forecasted a lengthy permitting process.
ELS evaluated the site and reviewed its history and found that the determination was inaccurate. The ditch in question was located on top of permitted fill, and POGH had maintained the ditch and the fill for several decades. Using site data, historical aerial photo review, and contract files from POGH, ELS documented that the ditch was a maintained structure, and is indeed a dewatering ditch for a permitted spoils deposition area.
After reviewing this information, the Corps of Engineers reversed its opinion and formally verified that the ditch was not jurisdictional, thereby allowing the project to proceed, with significant cost and time savings for the POGH and its client.