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Water Quality

Section 401 Certification

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Certification Process

  1. You May Need to Request a Pre-Application Meeting with All Pertinent Agencies

A pre-application meeting is recommended at the conceptual design stage for novel or complex projects needing removal/fill permits. Time permitting, DEQ will attend to advise applicants on water quality impact reduction, and to respond to process and application questions. Agencies to invite may include: US Army Corps of Engineers; Oregon Department of State Lands; Oregon DEQ; National Marine Fisheries Service; US Fish and Wildlife Service; Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development; Oregon Water Resources Department.

    State and federal agencies involved in 404/401 Water Quality Certification and Removal-Fill Permits have set up a schedule of regular meetings to assist applicants with large-scale project permits. These meetings supplement existing pre-application coordination. The process is intended for non-routine permit evaluations that may be complex or controversial in nature. The intent of the meetings is to provide meaningful comment and feedback to prospective applicants early in the permitting process, to inform their preparation of a permit application. Meeting information can be found on the Pre-Application DSL website.

2. Submit Joint Permit Application materials to USACE and DSL

USACE determines the permit type

  • Nationwide Permit (NWP) or Regional General Permit (RGP) - DEQ has pre-determined conditions for projects that fall under most NWP or RGP. Although this is an expedited process, there may still be conditions for turbidity monitoring or post construction stormwater management plan submittal among others.
  • Individual Permit - For more than minimal impacts, the USACE publishes a public notice and an Individual 401 WQC must be obtained from DEQ.
  4. DEQ performs an initial review and assigns a fee.
  5. DEQ conducts a 401 water quality certification evaluation, which includes a 30-35 day public notice period.
  6. Public comments are evaluated and incorporated into review and/or decision.
  7. The 401 water quality certification is sent to the USACE and the applicant.

Minimum Information Required

All projects require submittal of all of the following types of information:

  1. Basic Application
  2. Water Quality Specific
  3. Project Type Specific
  4. Mitigation Proposal

Basic Application Information

  • Legal name and address of activity owner or operator
  • Legal name and address of owner or operators authorized representative
  • Names and addresses of contiguous property owners
  • Description of existing, and proposed activity's water quality impacts
  • Complete written description of activity, including maps, diagrams and other information
  • Names of affected waterways, lakes, or other water bodies
  • Land Use Compatibility Statement (LUCS)

Submittal of the Joint Permit Application directly to DEQ covers the above information requirements.

Water Quality Specific Information

Water quality specific information is not typically included in the Joint Permit Application, but is required for DEQ to evaluate potential impacts to water quality and beneficial uses.

  • Demonstration that the activity complies with applicable Clean Water Act provisions (Sections 301, 302, 303, 306 and 307), Oregon Water Quality Standards and other state law requirements
  • Copies of environmental information submitted to the federal licensing or permitting agency
  • Identification of waterway(s) impacted by the project including wetlands and tributary streams
  • Confirm the status of waterways impacted by the project
  • Identification of potential impact to water quality parameters
  • Evaluation of potential water quality standard violation or contribution to violation
  • Identification of measures to prevent or mitigate violations or contributions to violations

Project Specific Information - Example Project Types and Potential Impacts

Example Project Types and Potential Impacts

Wetlands or Minor In-stream Projects - Along with basic information, the following may also be required:

  • Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plan: DEQ's SWMP Guidelines provides a checklist of information that must be included in a submittal and resources for preparing the information.
  • Integrated Pest Management: If the proposal involves widespread application of pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides near water (e.g. golf course, playing fields, parks) an Integrated Pest Management plan, which incorporates limitations on banned or restricted chemicals, is required.

In-Water Work - Along with basic information, the following may also be required:

  • Sediment Evaluation Framework: Protocols for sediment characterization and chemical analysis has been developed by a multi-agency workgroup led by the USACE. If material is unsuitable for placement in-water, DEQ Solid Waste must make a determination regarding the material being clean fill or suitable for beneficial use or issue a Solid Waste Letter of Authorization before material can be disposed in uplands.
  • In-Stream Isolation Measures or other Proposed BMPs: Minimization of impacts to water quality and beneficial uses can effectively be demonstrated through isolation of work areas from the flowing stream.
  • Elutriate Testing: If water removed with contaminated sediments will be discharged back to a waterway, elutriate testing may be required.


Mitigation Proposal

A project must be designed first to avoid impacts to waterways and/or wetlands. If impacts are unavoidable, the design must then minimize impacts as much as possible. If impacts are unavoidable, a proposal to mitigate all impacts must be submitted. For water quality review, the mitigation proposal must demonstrate replacement of lost water quality functions.

Additional 401 Resources

Mitigation Resources

Water Quality


Sediment Evaluation Framework

Dredged Material Re-Use and Disposal Options Resources

Integrated Pest Management


[print version]

For more information about DEQ's 401 Removal/Fill Certification Program, contact the 401 WQ Certification Coordinator by email.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Headquarters: 811 SW Sixth Ave., Portland, OR 97204-1390
Phone: 503-229-5696 or toll free in Oregon 1-800-452-4011
Oregon Telecommunications Relay Service: 1-800-735-2900  FAX: 503-229-6124

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