Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401
This Program regulates discharges of fill and dredged material to all waters of the state, including waters of the U.S. under Clean Water Act (CWA) section 401 and the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act. Additional protections are provided for wetlands, special aquatic sites and headwaters because these waterbodies have high resource value, are vulnerable to filling, and are not protected by other programs. The Program is involved with protection of special-status species and regulation of hydromodification impacts. The Program encourages watershed-level analysis and protection, because some functions of wetlands, riparian areas, and headwater streams–including pollutant removal, flood water retention, and habitat connectivity–are expressed at the watershed or landscape level. The core of the Program's protection strategies is demonstration of impact avoidance first, followed by minimization, and then mitigation to compensate for impacts and ensure no net loss of water resources.
Under federal Clean Water Act (CWA) section 401 every applicant for a federal permit or license for any activity which may result in a discharge to a water body must obtain State Water Quality Certification (Certification) that the proposed activity will comply with state water quality standards. Most Certifications are issued in connection with U.S. Army Corps of Engineer (Corps) CWA section 404 permits for dredge and fill discharges.
Starting in 2016, project applicants conducting dredge, fill, excavation or grading in waters of the state will be required to upload project information into EcoAtlas. Starting in 2017, some project applicants will be required to perform project assessments using CRAM on their project sites. Some of these projects may need pre-project CRAM assessment on their Project site performed during the summer of 2016. See EcoAtlas and CRAM.
Available Documents and Guidance Material
- Application for Water Quality Certification and/or Waste Discharge Requirements
- Minimum Requirements for a Draft Mitigation Plan
- U.S. EPA Clean Water Act Section 401: A Water Quality Protection Tool for States and Tribes
- Dredge and Fill Fee Calculator
- Adopted Fee Schedule (see "Water Quality Certification" for current year)
- Making an online payment
- The Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court on April 6, 2022. A pre-filing meeting request is required for all 401 WQC applicants at least 30 days prior to submitting a certification request.
To request a pre-filing meeting, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the 401 Certification Rule, see the US EPA's website.
Section 401 Water Quality Certification Public Notices
The State Water Resources Control Board revised State regulations for the 401 Water Quality Certification Program; these revisions went into effect on June 24, 2000. The revised regulations [23 CCR § 3830-3869] may be found at https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/laws_regulations/ or http://www.calregs.com/. State 3858 (a) states:
"The executive director or the executive officer with whom an application for certification is filed shall provide public notice of an application at least twenty one (21) days before taking certification action on the application, unless the public notice requirement has been adequately satisfied by the applicant or federal agency. If the applicant or federal agency provides public notice, it shall be in a manner and to an extent fully equivalent to that normally provided by the certifying agency. If an emergency requires that certification be issued in less than 21 days, public notice shall be provided as much in advance of issuance as possible, but no later than simultaneously with issuance of certification."
Pending Water Quality Certification Applications
Selected information on pending applications currently being reviewed for consideration of Water Quality Certification under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. The public has 21 days from the date posted to comment on projects currently under review by the Regional Board staff.
If you wish to be informed of the status and/or final certification action on any of these projects and/or for further information, please contact the staff noted in the "Pending Applications" link above. Email format is "email@example.com". We encourage public input during the certification process. Comments on any of these projects may be submitted in writing by email or U.S. Postal Service (see the addresses below). The list of pending applications is updated approximately every 2 weeks.
15095 Amargosa Rd., Bldg 2 - Suite 210,
Victorville, CA 92394
2501 Lake Tahoe Blvd.,
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150-7704