Section 404 permitting in coastal Texas from 1996 - 2003: patterns and effects on streamflow



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This study explores the spatial-temporal patterns of Section 404 permitting program under the Clean Water Act and examines its impact on mean and peak annual streamflow. The study area consists of 47 sub-basins that are delineated based on USGS streamflow gauges. These sub-basins span from the southern portion of coastal Texas to the easternmost portion of coastal Texas. Descriptive, spatial and spatial-temporal statistical methods are used to explore patterns in Section 404 permitting between 1996 and 2003. The effects of Section 404 permit types on mean and peak annual streamflow over the same 8 year period are also statistically modeled with a host of other relevant control variables. Exploratory analyses of Section 404 permits demonstrated characteristics that were indicative of suburban and, to a larger extent, exurban development. Explanatory analyses of the effects of Section 404 permitting on mean and peak streamflow showed that Section 404 permits increase both measures. These increases were minimal on a per-permit basis but have the ability to accumulate over time and result in much larger increases. Section 404 permits also displayed an ordered effect based on the permit type. Permit types that represent larger impacts had larger effects. The effects of permits of streamflow followed a descending pattern of Individual permits, Letters of Permission, Nationwide permits, and General permits. This ?type of permit impact? supports the use of this measure as an indicator of wetland impact and loss and corroborates previous studies that have incorporated this measure.