Water Quality Standards Certification Program

Water Quality Standards Certification Program - Section 401

Submit a Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification Application

Under new Federal 401 Certification Rules (https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2020-07/documents/clean_water_act_section_401_certification_rule.pdf), you will need to submit a "Pre-Filing Meeting" Request a minimum of 30 days prior to submitting an application for a 401 Certification. Please send your request to the following address: rb8-401application@waterboards.ca.gov. The subject line of the email should read Pre-Filing Meeting Request, 401 Certification, (Project Name). In the body of the email, state that you are requesting a Pre-filing Meeting request for the Certification application for the, (Project Name, City and County).

If you have already sent in your Pre-Filing Meeting Request and it's been 30 days since the receipt of your request, you may now send in your Certification application materials to rb8-401application@waterboards.ca.gov. Submission of the application form electronically should include a valid electronic signature. Only pdf files are acceptable for email submissions and there is a 25 MB file size limit for files. For larger files the Santa Ana Water Board maintains a public FTP site. To use the FTP site to submit files please:

  1. Email webmaster8@waterboards.ca.gov to request credentials. Provide your name and reason for the request.
  2. When you receive the. user name and password, login to the Water Boards FTP site
  3. Follow the FTP Instructions to upload the file(s).
  4. In order to insure proper routing, send an email to webmaster8@waterboards.ca.gov and provide the file name that you just uploaded and a message that the application should be routed to 401 Water Quality Certification Staff.

If paying your Application Fee and/or Project Fee by check, please mail a hardcopy of the application submitted electronically and the check for the application fee and/or project fee to:
Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board
Attn: 401 Water Quality Certification Staff
3737 Main Street, Suite 500
Riverside, California 92501

The State Water Resources Control Board has a webpage that includes other options for payment including Electronic Funds Transfers and Credit Cards. Please see their Make a Payment webpage for more information. Select the Application Fee for both the application and project fees.

Pursuant to 40 CFR Part 121, Section 121.5(b) of the new Federal 401 Certification Rule, the request for 401 Certification must include the following:

  1. Identify the project proponent(s) and a point of contact.
  2. Identify the proposed project.
  3. Identify the applicable federal license or permit.
  4. Identify the location and nature of any potential discharge that may result from the proposed project and the location of receiving waters.
  5. Include a description of any methods and means proposed to monitor the discharge and the equipment or measures planned to treat, control, or manage the discharge
  6. Include a list of all other federal, interstate, tribal, state, territorial, or local agency authorizations required for the proposed project, including all approvals or denials already received.
  7. Include documentation that a prefiling meeting request was submitted to the certifying authority at least 30 days prior to submitting the certification request.
  8. Contain the following statement: “The project proponent hereby certifies that all information contained herein is true, accurate, and complete, to the best of my knowledge and belief.”
  9. Contain the following statement, “The project proponent hereby requests that the certifying authority review and take action on this CWA 401 certification request within the applicable reasonable period of time.”

Please submit your application for Certification on the State Water Board Application Form. Additionally, please submit a cover letter that includes statements in items 8 and 9 exactly as they are worded above. The Certification Application should be submitted concurrently to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Additional information can be found here:

Please note all discharges authorized by Clean Water Act 401 Water Quality Certifications are also regulated pursuant to State Water Board Water Quality Order No. 2003-0017-DWQ which authorizes Certifications to serve as Waste Discharge Requirements pursuant to the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act (Water Code, sections 13000 et seq.). Please see the contents of a complete application for State Requirements.

State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State

The State Water Board adopted the State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State (commonly referred to as the the “Procedures”) on April 2, 2019. The Procedures became effective on May 28, 2020. The Procedures regulate projects that discharge fill to or excavate or dredge material from Waters of the State. Applications received after or on May 28, 2020 are subject to the Procedures.


Emergency Permits for Dredge and Fill Activities

EMERGENCY PERMITS FOR DREDGE AND FILL ACTIVITIES: USACOE Los Angeles District’s Regional General Permit (RGP) 63 for emergency discharges of dredge and fill to surface waters of the United States, including wetlands, was re-certified by the State Water Board on November 8, 2018. Links to the Certification Order, Notice of Intent Form, and Notice of completion form can be found in the 2018 section of https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/cwa401/generalorders.html

Certification for individual projects under RGP 63 requires that: 1) the emergency action meets the CEQA definition of an emergency (a sudden, unexpected occurrence …demanding immediate action to prevent or mitigate loss of, or damage to, life, health, property, or essential public service...); 2) a forty-eight hour notification must be submitted to the State Water Board and the applicable Regional Water Board prior to initiating the emergency project, if feasible; 3) a completed RGP 63 Attachment C (discharge information etc.) must be submitted to the State and Regional Water Boards, within three business days of submitting the 48 hour notice and, 4)  a final report, including RGP 63 Attachment D, must be submitted to the State and Regional Water Boards within 45 days of completion of any action conducted under the RGP 63.  

Projects that do not qualify for coverage under RGP 63 will require the issuance of an individual Certification from the Santa Ana Water Board. For emergency Certification of projects conducted under RGP 63 the statutory 21-day public notice period is reduced to simply providing notice prior to issuance. Santa Ana Water Board staff strives to issue emergency Certifications within one business day.  

For information about receiving emergency permit coverage under RGP 63, contact the USACOE’s Los Angeles District office. For further information on receiving an emergency CWA 401 Certification, please review our web pages for the Certification program or contact RB8-401Application@waterboards.ca.gov.

General Information

Dredge and fill discharges to waters of the U.S. are primarily regulated through Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Standards Certifications (Certifications), accompanied by authorization to discharge via State regulations under State Water Board Order No. 2003-0017-DWQ. Discharges of dredge and fill to waters of the State that are not subject to federal jurisdiction are authorized under the State Water Board's General Order No. 2004-0004-DWQ or individual waste discharge requirements issued by the Santa Ana Water Board. You can view a list of Recently-issued Certifications and individual Waste Discharge Orders from our Adopted Orders pages based on the year they were adopted.

Notices and Reports

Applying for a Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Standards Certification

Resources for Applicants

Additional Resources