401 Certification Assistance

If you propose to conduct any activity including, but not limited to, the construction or operation of facilities that may result in any discharge to navigable waters, you need to apply for “401 Certification”.

What Form do I Need?

Section 401 Water Quality Certification
Application for Individual Water Quality Certification and/or Waste Discharge Requirements

How do I get Started?

You will be asked to describe the purpose of the project, the amount of fill or dredged material, and any mitigation measures related to the project.
In California, all applications for water quality certifications must be submitted to the Executive Officer of the Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) in whose region the discharge may occur. For certifications related to permits issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), applications must be sent to the State Water Resources Control Board.

What Information is Needed?

  1. A completed 401 Water Quality Certification Application Form.
  2. A completed copy of the application for the federal license or permit.
  3. A copy of any agreement with the california Department of Fish and Game (as per Fish and Game Code Sections 1600-1607). If you have applied for a Fish and Game agreement but have not yet received it, submit a copy of the application. If the proposed project is exempt from Fish and Game jurisdiction, state why it is exempt.
  4. A copy of the final California Environmental Quality (CEQA - State) or National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA - federal) document, including notice of determination. A NEPA document must be functionally equivalent to a CEQA document. If exempt from CEQA/NEPA requirements, specify the code section under which it is exempt. An application may be considered complete without a CEQA document, but we cannot issue certification until we receive the final document.
  5. Information regarding any other state or federal permits that apply to this project, including, but not limited to: storm water permit number; dewatering permit number; status of Section 7 or Section 10 consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

If you are unsure of what is required for a complete application, please email Kai Dunn or phone (760) 776-8986.

Is there a Fee?

23 CCR Sections 2200(e) and 3833(b)(2) prescribe the following fees for certification of activities that may involve a discharge of dredged or fill material:

  1. All applications for water quality certification must include an application fee in accordance with the current fee schedule.
  2. The total fee, including deposit, for issuing a water quality certification, can be determined using the Dredge and Fill Fee Calculator.

All fees should be made payable to the State Water Resources Control Board and shall be submitted to:

ATTN: 401 Certification Program
California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Region 7
73-720 Fred Waring Drive, Suite 100
Palm Desert, CA 92260.

Bill of Rights for Environmental Permit Applicants

The California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) endorses the following precepts that form the basis of a permit applicant’s “Bill of Rights”:

  • Permit applicants have the right to assistance in understanding regulatory and permit requirements. All Cal/EPA programs maintain an Ombudsman to work directly with applicants. Permit Assistance Centers located throughout California have permit specialists from all the State, regional, and local agencies to identify permit requirements and assist in permit processing.
  • Permit applicants have the right to know the projected fees for review of applications, how any costs will be determined and billed, and procedures for resolving any disputes over fee billings.
  • Permit applicants have the right of access to complete and clearly written guidance documents that explain the regulatory requirements. Agencies must publish a list of all information required in a permit application and of criteria used to determine whether the submitted information is adequate.
  • Permit applicants have the right of timely completeness determinations for their applications. In general, agency notify the applicants within 30 days of any deficiencies or determine that the application is complete. California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and public hearing requests may require additional information.
  • Permit applicants have the right to know exactly how their application are deficient and what further information is needed to make their applications complete. Pursuant to California Government Code Section 65944, after an application is accepted as complete an agency may not request any new or additional information that was not specified in the original application.
  • Permit applicants have the right of a timely decision on their permit application. The agencies are required to establish time limits for permit reviews.
  • Permit applicants have the right to appeal permit review time limits by statute or administratively that have been violated without good cause. For state environmental agencies, appeals are made directly to the Cal/EPA Secretary or to a specific board. For local environmental agencies, appeals are generally made to the local governing board or, under certain circumstances to Cal/EPA. Through this appeal applicants may obtain a set date for a decision on their permit and in some cases a refund of all application fees (ask boards and departments for details).
  • Permit applicants have the right to work with a single lead agency where multiple environmental approvals are needed. For multiple permits, all agency actions can be consolidated under a lead agency. For site remediation, applicable laws can be administered through a single lead agency.
  • Permit applicants have the right to know who will be reviewing their application and the time required to complete the full review process.