Water Quality Certifications – CWA §401

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality is the lead state agency that administers the Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality certification program in Oklahoma. The purpose of these certification reviews is to determine whether a proposed discharge will comply with Oklahoma water quality standards. DEQ conducts Clean Water Act Section 401 certification reviews of projects requiring a federal discharge permit.  The most common federal permits in Oklahoma requiring 401 certifications are Clean Water Act Section 404 permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States.

Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes a program to regulate the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including wetlands. Activities in waters of the United States regulated under this program include fill for development, water resource projects (such as dams and levees), infrastructure development (such as highways and airports) and mining projects. CWA Section 404 requires a permit before dredged or fill material may be discharged into waters of the United States, unless the activity is exempt from Section 404 regulation.

Oklahoma DEQ does not issue CWA Section 404 permits. Section 404 permits for the State are the responsibility of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tulsa District Regulatory Office. Questions regarding Section 404 permits should be directed to:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Tulsa District Regulatory Office

401 Certification Information

On June 1, 2020, the EPA finalized the “Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule” to implement the water quality certification process consistent with the text and structure of the CWA. The information about the rule is available here Final Rule: Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule | Overview of Certification under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act | US EPA

The final 401 Certification Rule has the following specific requirements for obtaining the necessary certification:

 

  • It is the responsibility of the proponent to request 401 certification from DEQ.
  • The federal rule requires all project proponents to submit a pre-filing meeting request to DEQ at least 30 days prior to submitting a Section 401 Water Quality Certification request (certification request).
  • After 30 days or later since requesting a prefiling meeting, a proponent may submit a certification request to DEQ and Tulsa District of Army Corps of Engineers.

For assistance with prefiling meeting request and/or certification request please contact the DEQ Watershed Planning section.

A $100 Fee is charged for DEQ Water Quality Certifications. This fee is paid to DEQ by the permit applicant. Upon receipt of a request for 401 certification review by a federal agency, DEQ will send a fee invoice to the permit applicant. DEQ’s certification review will not begin until the applicant’s payment has been received.

DEQ Rules for Water Quality Certifications

DEQ rules provide the State’s requirements for water quality certifications. OAC 252:611-3 addresses the types of federal applications requiring certification, requirements for certification, certification fee, public notice requirements, types of certification, and duration of certification.

The current rules are available in Subchapter 3 of OAC 252:611.

401 Public Notice – Bank stabilization on Snake Creek in Mayes County

401 Public Notice – Bank stabilization on Spring Creek in Cherokee County

Contact Watershed Planning