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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, Tribes with treatment as a state (TAS), or the EPA has reasonable assurance that the applicant's project will comply with state or federally approved water quality standards and other aquatic resources protection requirements. 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 Certifications. Ecology, Tribes with TAS, or EPA where Tribes do not have TAS have certified, certified subject to conditions, or denied specific Nationwide Permits. If certified, no further Section 401 Certification review is required (provided all General Conditions are met). If certified subject to conditions, an individual certification or Letter of Verification is required. If denied, an individual certification is required for all activities under that Nationwide Permit.
Who Issues this Certification?
Variable: See notes/comments for more information.
What Activities Require this Certification?
Applying for a federal permit or license to conduct any activity that might result in any discharge into waters or non-isolated wetlands or excavation in water or non-isolated wetlands (including dredge or fill material).
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 http://www.epermitting.wa.gov/site/alias__resourcecenter/jarpa/9983/jarpa.aspx.
Do I Need to Include Anything with my Application?
If applicable to the project:
Endangered Species Act biological assessments, 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, EPA, or Tribe with TAS must receive a copy of the public notice or Nationwide Permit authorization letter prior to issuance of their Section 401 Water Quality Certification.
  • 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, EPA, or Tribe with TAS 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:

    Non Tribal Lands
    Department of Ecology - SEA Program
    Federal Permit Coordinator
    PO Box 47600
    Olympia, Washington 98504-7600
    E-mail: ecyrefedpermits@ecy.wa.gov

Or if on Tribal Lands where the tribe does not have treatment as a state to:

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Office of Environmental Review and Assessment
    Aquatic Resources Unit (OERA-140)
    1200 6th Avenue - Suite 900
    Seattle, WA 98101
    E-mail: storm.linda@epa.gov
    Phone: 206-553-6384

Or directly to the following tribes with Treatment as a State:

    Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation, Kalispel Indian Community, Lummi Tribe, Makah Indian Nation, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Spokane Tribe of Indians, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Tulalip Tribes
Schematic:
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 the 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?
Section 401 Certifications issued by Ecology are appealable to Pollution Control Hearings Board (PCHB) within thirty days of the decision. PCHB may not hear case for six or more months.
Notes / Comments:
Who issues this certificate:
Department of Ecology for all waters of the U.S. (including wetlands) that are not on tribal lands.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for all waters and wetlands on tribal lands where tribes do not have EPA approved treatment as a state.

Tribes with EPA approved treatment as a state (TAS). There are currently ten tribes in Washington with TAS: Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation, Kalispel Indian Community, Lummi Tribe, Makah Indian Nation, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Spokane Tribe of Indians, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, and Tulalip Tribes.

Subject Matter Expert Phone & Email:
Department of Ecology’s Contacts: Federal Permit Coordinator – 360-407-6076 or email - ecyrefedpermits@ecy.wa.gov
U.S. EPA Contacts: Linda Storm 206-553-6384, storm.linda@epa.gov and back-up Annie Whitley 206-553-0058, whitley.annie@epa.gov

NOTE: If an applicant receives a Nationwide Permit and Ecology issues a Letter of Verification, 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: https://www.oria.wa.gov/ORIA-2018-PermitTimelinessProgressReport.pdf.

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: 114
Maximum number of days from Receipt to Complete: 362

Estimated Time Required By the Agency to Issue a Permit Decision (Definition)
Average number of days from Complete Application to Decision: 39
Maximum number of days from Complete Application to Decision: 171

(Summary results based on 46 submittals in 2018)

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
Headquarters
300 Desmond Drive
PO Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600
Telephone: (360) 407-6000
Website: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/
* Permit information last updated 7/2/2018
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