401 Water Quality Certification
What is a 401 Certification?
Section 401 of the Clean Water Act gives authority to each state to issue a Water Quality Certification (401 Certification) for any project requiring a federal permit or license. This authority is given in order for the state to verify the project does not violate state water quality standards. To help applicants avoid and minimize impacts to water quality, the department may require actions (conditions) on projects as part of a 401 Certification.
Although 401 Certifications are issued in association with federal licenses, such as Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hydropower licenses, most 401 Certifications are issued for Clean Water Act Section 404 Permits (404 Permits) issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). These permits authorize the placing of material, or fill, into the jurisdictional waters of the United States. Examples of placing fill include riprap along stream banks, culverts under road crossings and stormwater outfall pipes. The term jurisdictional waters refers to large lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands, including those that don't always contain water. Jurisdictional determinations are made by the Corps, but the permitting and certification process is shared between the Corps and the department. More details can be found at the Corps Regulatory Program and Permits website.
Many 404 Permits require individual review by the Corps and individual 401 Certification review by the department. To expedite the issuance of a large number of 404 Permits to authorize activities that have minimal individual and cumulative adverse environmental effects, the Corps can issue a general permit subject to a set of general conditions. A nationwide permit (NWP) is a common type of general permit available across the United States (with some exceptions) to authorize a variety of common project types, such as streambank stabilization, utility crossings, outfall structures and residential/commercial development. Federal nationwide permits, general conditions and definitions can found on the Corps’ website. Many of the Corps’ general permits, including most NWPs, are pre-certified for 401 Certification and subject to a set of general and specific conditions set by the department.
Following is information about how to apply for a 401 Certification, along with information about the conditions that will apply for 404 Nationwide Permits in Missouri.
How do I apply for a 401 Water Quality Certification?
- If you are considering a project that may involve placing materials in a lake, river, stream, dry streambed or wetland, contact the Corps to find out if the project you are planning is within jurisdictional waters and is a regulated activity. The Corps has the sole authority to determine this. A map of the Corps Districts, including contact numbers, will help you determine which office you should contact.
- If the Corps determines the project qualifies for a NWP, they will send you a letter authorizing your project under a particular permit. To see the descriptions and limitations of NWPs, visit the Corps' website for nationwide permits, general conditions and definitions.
- If the Corps’ verification letter states the Department of Natural Resources has "conditionally certified" your activity and has enclosed our general and specific conditions, you need nothing further from us.
- If the Corps’ verification letter indicates that you must obtain an individual 401 certification, please send your application materials directly to us. Although the Corps sends the department a copy of the letters to applicants authorizing projects as NWPs, those letters generally do not contain all of the information needed for a complete 401 Certification application. The department has developed an Application Checklist listing information you must provide. The form used when applying to the Corps for a 404 permit (ENG Form 4345) includes most of the information needed for a 401 Certification. You may use this form to apply for your 401 Certification if you wish and attach any additional information needed. You may also need to provide a mitigation plan when impacting a jurisdictional stream and/or wetland. Information regarding mitigation in Missouri can be found on this Corps Regulatory Branch website.
Submit your application to:
Missouri Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 176
Jefferson City, MO 65102-0176
- You will receive an invoice for the appropriate fee per 10 CSR 20-6.011(2)(I) along with the certification decision letter. Please do not send a check until the invoice is mailed to you. The invoice contains information on how to make payment. Upon receipt of the fee, the department will notify the appropriate office of the Corps of Engineers to inform them the certification is now in effect and final.
How can I get more information on 404 Permits or 401 Certifications?
For more information about when a 404 permit is required or other questions on 404 permits, contact the Corps district office for your area as indicated on the map, or go to the Corps Regulatory Branch website.
Information regarding 404 Permits/401 Certifications in wetlands can be found in this department publication.
Information regarding 404 Permits/401 Certifications for sand and gravel removal can be found in this department publication.
For more information on 401 certifications, contact the department by email or by calling 573-522-4502.