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Regulatory Handbook -> Federal Requirements -> Section 401 Water Quality Certification

Section 401 Water Quality Certification

What is the Purpose of this Certification?
Issuance of a Section 401 Certification means that Ecology has reasonable assurance that the applicant's project will comply with state water quality standards and other aquatic resources protection requirements under Ecology's authority. The Section 401 Certification can cover both the construction and operation of a proposed project. Conditions of the Section 401 Certification become conditions of the Federal permit or license. For 404 permits the Corps has developed Nationwide Permits to streamline the process for specific activities. The Corps reviews a proposed project to determine if an individual 404 permit is required, or if the project can be authorized under a Nationwide Permit. The Nationwide Permits also need Section 401 Certification from Ecology. Ecology has already certified, certified subject to conditions, or denied specific Nationwide Permits. If certified, no further Section 401 Certification review by Ecology is required. If certified subject to conditions, an individual certification or Letter of Verification from Ecology is required. If denied, an individual certification is required for all activities under that Nationwide Permit.
Who Issues this Certification?
Department of Ecology
What Activities Require this Certification?
Applying for a federal permit or license to conduct any activity that might result in a discharge of dredge or fill material into water or non-isolated wetlands or excavation in water or non-isolated wetlands.
How Much Will this Certification Cost?
No fee for Section 401 certifications.
Where Can I Get the Application for this Certification?
The application which is called 'Joint Aquatic Resources Permit Application (JARPA)' is online and can be accessed at
Do I Need to Include Anything with my Application?
If applicable to the project:
Mitigation plans, Water Quality Monitoring plan, Operation and maintenance plans, Stormwater site plans and Restoration plans.
Is the Decision on my Certification Dependent on Anything Besides the Information in my Application?
  • For projects requiring a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit Ecology must receive a copy of the public notice or Nationwide Permit authorization letter prior to making a Section 401 Certification decisions.
  • For projects that trigger State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review, SEPA has to be completed prior to a Section 401 Certification decision.
How Long Will it Take to Review my Application?
Individual Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC): Ecology has up to one year to certify, condition, or deny a project receiving a federal permit, approval, or license.
Where do I Submit my Application?
All applications should be sent to:

    Department of Ecology - SEA Program
    Federal Permit Coordinator
    PO Box 47600
    Olympia, Washington 98504-7600
View the schematic
How Long is my Certification Valid?
Section 401 Certification becomes part of the federal permit or license. The duration of the Section 401 Certification would be in effect for same time period as the permit or license, however Ecology issues Section 401 Certifications as 90.48 administrative orders, so they may have conditions that apply to the project longer than the federal permit or license.
What is the Appeal Process for the Certification?
Appealable to Pollution Control Hearings Board (PCHB) within thirty days of Ecology's decision. PCHB may not hear case for six or more months.
Notes / Comments:
Subject Matter Expert Phone & Email: Federal Permit Contacts

If an applicant receives a Nationwide Permit and Ecology issues a LOV, there are no public notice requirements under Section 401 Certification for that specific project. If the applicant receives a Nationwide Permit but is required to obtain an individual Section 401 Certification, public notice is required.
Permit Timeliness Results

Permit Timeliness data collection is in response to a State Auditor’s Performance Audit and RCW 43.42A. Each regulatory agency developed a plan to improve permit clarity, predictability, and timeliness. Each agency considers the customers experience to ensure permit assistance is simple to use, easy to access, and designed in a customer-friendly manner. Agencies report progress to the Governor’s Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance (ORIA). ORIA prepares and distributes reports, with participation from the State Auditor’s Office and Results Washington. See latest report here:

All permits submitted for reporting were entered into this Regulatory Handbook. Here are the results of the performance data:

Estimated Time Required By the Agency to Process a Permit Application (Definition)
Average number of days from Receipt to Complete: 68
Maximum number of days from Receipt to Complete: 360

Estimated Time Required By the Agency to Issue a Permit Decision (Definition)
Average number of days from Complete Application to Decision: 134
Maximum number of days from Complete Application to Decision: 351

(Summary results based on 46 submittals in 2016)

Where can I get permitting assistance?
Subject matter expert phone: Contacts vary by location, see comments/notes for link to Federal Permit Contacts webpage.
Statewide Contact:
Department of Ecology
300 Desmond Drive
PO Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600
Telephone: (360) 407-6000
* Permit information last updated 2/7/2017
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