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Iowa 401 Water Quality Certification (14-IA-d)

Information current as of 2020
In Iowa, a person (developer) may need a 401 Water Quality Certification or waiver from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) for projects that require a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or a US Army Corps of Engineers approval and may result in any discharge into the navigable waters of the U.S.

Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) (33 U.S.C. § 1251 et seq.) requires developers, subject to a federal license or permit (e.g., Clean Water Act Section 404 permit, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license, etc.), to obtain a 401 Certification or waiver if the project may result in any discharge into the navigable waters of the U.S. Under Section 401(a)(1) of the CWA (33 U.S.C. § 1341), states have the authority to review and approve, condition, waive, or deny a 401 Certification.

In addition to projects requiring a 401 Certification for a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license, a 401 Certification is required for projects triggered by a CWA Section 404 permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). For more information on Section 404 permits, see:

Clean Water Act Section 404 Permit Application Process:

401 Water Quality Certification Process

14-IA-d.1 – 401 Water Quality Certification Application

The developer must complete and submit a IDNR-USACE Joint Application Form to IDNR and USACE. Depending on the scope of the project, IDNR may require the developer to complete an additional Application. In most cases, the developer only needs to submit the IDNR-USACE Joint Application Form. In the Application, the developer must include relevant information such as:

  • The developer’s name, phone number, address and email address;
  • A detailed description of the project;
  • The purpose and need of the project;
  • Details about any proposed discharges from the project;
  • The project location; and
  • Relevant dates for the project.

IDNR-USACE Joint Application Form.

14-IA-d.2 to 14-IA-d.3 – Review Application Materials for Completeness

After receiving an Application, IDNR and USACE review the Application materials for administrative and technical completeness. USACE has 15 days to complete an initial review of the Application. If there are any deficiencies in the Application, the developer must provide additional information to remedy those deficiencies.

14-IA-d.4 to 14-IA-d.5 – Publish Public Notice of Application

After determining the Application is complete, IDNR publishes notice of the Application in a newspaper distributed in area where the project is located. USACE also publishes notice of the Application on USACE’s website.

After USACE and IDNR publish notice, the public typically has 15 to 30 days to comment on the Application. Comments submitted to IDNR must be water quality related, but comments to USACE may include other public interest factors.

14-IA-d.6 to 14-IA-d.7 – Review Application for Approval

At the end of the public comment period, USACE and IDNR conduct a final review of the Application and the project. IDNR only approves the Application if the project complies with Iowa’s Water Quality Standards. Iowa Admin. Code §567.61.2(2)(g). USACE also reviews whether the developer has provided adequate mitigation for impacts of the proposed project. If the developer provides adequate mitigation and no one submits any public comments, the IDNR typically completes its final review within 45 days. Otherwise, the timeframe for IDNR’s final review depends on how quickly the developer addresses public comments, provides adequate mitigation, and performs any necessary environmental surveys.

14-IA-d.8 – 401 Water Quality Certification

If IDNR approves the Application, IDNR issues a 401 Water Quality Certification to the developer. The developer must comply with any best management practices associated with the 401 Certification.

14-IA-d.9 – Appeal Decision (Optional)

Any person appealing IDNR’s decision must file a written notice of appeal with IDNR within 30 days of the person receiving notice of IDNR’s decision. Iowa Admin. Code §561.7.4(1). The appeal must contain:

  • The name and address of the person filing the appeal;
  • A description of the specific IDNR action being appealed; and
  • A short and plain statement of the reasons why the person is appealing IDNR’s action.

Iowa Admin. Code §561.7.4(2).

The following proceedings must be consistent with the Iowa Administrative Procedure Act.

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Contact Information

Edit Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Environmental Specialist (515) 725-8399 Visit Website