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Ohio 401 Water Quality Certification (14-OH-d)

In Ohio, a developer needs a 401 Water Quality Certification or waiver from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (“Ohio EPA”) 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 WQC for a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) license, 401 WQC is required for projects triggered by a CWA Section 404 permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. For more information on Section 404 permits, see:

Clean Water Act Section 404 Permit Application Process:
14-FD-a



401 Water Quality Certification Process

14-OH-d.1 – Hold Pre-Application Meeting (Optional)

Developers are encouraged to schedule a pre-application meeting with an Ohio EPA 401 Coordinator to review the proposed project plans and ensure that the developer is aware of all necessary requirements for obtaining a 401 WQC. Ohio EPA WQC Webpage – Water Quality Certifications Pre-Application Meeting. The developer should submit a 401 WQC Pre-Application Meeting Request Form

14-OH-d.2 – 401 Water Quality Certification Application

The developer must submit a 401 Water Quality Certification Application as well as additional supplemental information (the “Application”) to Ohio EPA. If a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 404 public notice is required, the Application must be submitted within 45 days of its publication. O.A.C. § 3745-32-03(B)(2). Ohio EPA requires that the Application be completed and submitted in the following uniform manner:

  • Item 1: 401 WQC Application Form
  • Item 2: Stream and/or Wetland and/or Lake Impact Tables
  • Item 3: Waters Delineation Report (including site photographs)
    • Ohio Rapid Assessment Method (ORAM) forms
    • Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI) forms
    • Appropriate biological sampling information
  • Item 4: Correspondence
    • Item 4a – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Jurisdictional Determination
    • Item 4b – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Public Notice or Provisional Nationwide Permit
    • Item 4c – Ohio Department of Natural Resources – Natural Heritage Database request
    • Item 4d – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Threatened and Endangered Species Coordination
  • Item 5: Proposed Project Antidegradation Analysis
  • Item 6: Proposed Project Mapping
  • Item 7: Proposed Mitigation Plan

O.R.C. § 6111.30(A); Application Instructions. The Application must also include the applicable fees. Note: State agencies and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers applying for a 401 WQC are exempt from paying application fees. Application Instructions.

The developer must separate each Application item with an appropriately labeled tabbed divider. Note: These tabs should be labeled “Application Form,” “Impact Tables,” etc., and not “Item 1,” “Item 2,” etc. If an item is not required, the developer must include a one-page “negative declaration” stating that the item is not required for an administratively complete application. Application Instructions.

Ohio EPA prefers that the developer submit one signed hard copy and one electronic copy of the Application. Alternatively, the developer may submit four hard copies, one of which must be the original signed version. Application Instructions.


14-OH-d.3 to 14-OH-d.4 – Review Application Materials for Completeness

Within 15 business days after receiving an individual 401 WQC Application, the Ohio EPA Director must notify the developer via a faxed letter, as an attachment to an email, or hard copy mailed letter as to whether the Application is administratively complete. O.R.C. § 6111.30(B); O.A.C. § 3745-32-03(C)(1). Ohio EPA will consider the Application to be incomplete if it is not in the above-prescribed order. Application Instructions.

14-OH-d.5 to 14-OH-d.7 – Notice of Incomplete Application

If the Application is incomplete, the Director notifies the developer and includes in that notice an itemized list of the missing information. The developer must acknowledge receipt of the 15-day review letter by signature and returned by fax or via email response with attachments. Ohio EPA WQC Webpage – Water Quality Certifications 15-Day Completeness Review. The developer then has 60 days in which to provide the missing information. O.R.C. § 6111.30(B); O.A.C. § 3745-32-03(C)(1)(b). Further processing of the Application ceases until the Ohio EPA receives the missing information or materials. O.R.C. § 6111.30(B); O.A.C. § 3745-32-03(C)(1)(a).

14-OH-d.8 to 14-OH-d.9 – Notice of Complete Application

If the Application is complete, Ohio EPA issues to the developer a Notice of Complete Application. That notice notifies the developer what type of public notice is required for the project, and provides the name and contact information for the application reviewer assigned to the project. The developer must acknowledge receipt of the 15-day review letter by signature and returned by fax or via email response with attachments. Ohio EPA WQC Webpage – Water Quality Certifications 15-Day Completeness Review.

14-OH-d.10 – Arrange Mid-Project Review Meeting (Optional)

The application reviewer at Ohio EPA generally offers the opportunity for a mid-project review (“MPR”) meeting to the developer between 45 and 75 days after the Application is complete. During that time the reviewer identifies any major issues with the Application. The reviewer notifies the developer of any issues or questions that have arisen at the time the MPR invitation is made.

Typically, an MPR meeting should take place within two weeks of the invitation. After the MPR, the reviewer generates written documentation of the meeting and any required follow up actions for inclusion in the project file. The documentation should include the following, at a minimum:

  • List of attendees;
  • Agenda items discussed;
  • Points of agreement/disagreement; and
  • List of follow up actions discussed.

An MPR meeting is voluntary, but helps facilitate communication between the developer and the application reviewer and promotes a more efficient review of the Application. Declining an MPR does not impact the developer’s appeal rights. On the other hand, participating in an MPR does not preclude the reviewer from submitting additional questions or comments on the Application. Mid-Project Review Guidance.

14-OH-d.11 – Does Ohio EPA Require a Public Hearing?

The complete application letter indicates if Ohio EPA requires a public hearing about the project, based on significant public interest in the project. O.R.C. § 6111.30(D).

14-OH-d.12 to 14-OH-d.14 – Publish Notice of Application

Within 21 days of Ohio EPA determining that the Application is administratively complete, the developer must publish public notice of the Application in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the project is located. O.R.C. § 6111.30(C); Ohio General Circulation Newspaper List. Ohio EPA provides the developer with a copy of the required public notice text. Public Notice Instruction Sheet. The developer must provide the Ohio EPA Director proof of publication. O.R.C. § 6111.30(C).

Additionally, Ohio EPA’s Division of Surface Water Permit Processing Unit mails the notice to Ohio EPA’s Interested Parties List and places the notice in the Weekly Review, both of which are additional tools used by Ohio EPA to notify the public of the agency’s actions. Public Notice Instruction Sheet.

14-OH-d.15 – Comment on Application

Members of the public have 30 days to comment on the Application after notice is published. O.R.C. § 6111.30(C). Ohio EPA forwards comments it receives to the developer within five days of receiving them. O.R.C. § 6111.30(E).

14-OH-d.16 – Does Ohio EPA Elect to Hold a Public Hearing?

Based on comments received during the public comment period, the Ohio EPA may determine that a public hearing is necessary. O.R.C. § 6111.30(D).


14-OH-d.17 – Publish Notice of Application and Public Hearing

Within 21 days of Ohio EPA determining that the Application is administratively complete, the developer must publish public notice of the Application in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the project is located. O.R.C. § 6111.30(C); Ohio General Circulation Newspaper List. Ohio EPA will copy Ohio EPA’s Public Interest Center (“PIC”) on the complete application letter to notify the PIC of the need to schedule a public hearing.

Additionally, Ohio EPA’s Division of Surface Water Permit Processing Unit mails the notice to Ohio EPA’s Interested Parties List and places the notice in the Weekly Review, both of which are additional tools used by Ohio EPA to notify the public of the agency’s actions. Public Notice Instruction Sheet.

14-OH-d.18 to 14-OH-d.19 – Comment on Application

Members of the public have 45 days to comment on the Application after notice of a public hearing is published. Public Notice Instruction Sheet. Ohio EPA forwards comments it receives to the developer within five days of receiving them. O.R.C. § 6111.30(E).

14-OH-d.20 – Hold Public Hearing

The public hearing must take place no more than 100 days after Ohio EPA determines that the Application is complete. O.R.C. § 6111.30(D).

14-OH-d.21 – Respond to Public Comments

The developer must respond to written comments within 15 days of receiving them. O.R.C. § 6111.30(F).

14-OH-d.22 to 14-OH-d.25 – Review Application

Ohio EPA uses information provided in the Application, as well as comments made during the public comment period(s), to determine whether or not to issue a 401 Water Quality Certification. Ohio EPA must issue or deny a 401 WQC within 180 days of receiving a complete Application from the developer. Ohio EPA must provide the developer an opportunity to review the WQC before it issues it to the developer. O.R.C. § 6111.30(G); O.A.C. § 3745-32-03(E)(1).

After reviewing the 401 Application, the assigned application reviewer forwards Ohio EPA comments to the developer (the “comment letter”). The developer may, at that point, address Ohio EPA’s comments. Based on the developer’s response to the comments, Ohio EPA may issue a second comment letter.

14-OH-d.26 to 14-OH-d.31– Does the Developer Disagree with the Second Comment Letter?

If the developer disagrees with the second comment letter, the developer may notify the application reviewer in writing of the disputed issue within 15 days of the second letter. Within 15 days of notification, the application reviewer must provide the Ohio EPA Section 401/Isolated Wetlands Permit Program Manager (“Manager”) with the project file, flagging pertinent information. Within that time period, the developer must also provide the following information to the Manger:

  1. A one-page summary of the developer’s position;
  2. A list of materials already provided to Ohio EPA to support that position; and
  3. A copy of new materials, not previously provided to Ohio EPA, to support that position.

The Manager reviews the project file and the developer’s written arguments and, within 10 days of receiving them, notifies both parties in writing of his decision. During that time, the Manager may also request additional information from the developer or from the application reviewer. Any decision made by the Manager during the dispute resolution process does not constitute a final action of the Ohio EPA Director. The developer retains all rights of appeal on final action taken by Ohio EPA. 401 WQC Dispute Resolution Guidance.


14-OH-d.32 to 14-OH-d.33 – Does Ohio EPA Approve the Application?

If Ohio EPA approves the Application, Ohio EPA issues a 401 Water Quality Certification to the developer. Ohio EPA may impose additional terms and conditions to the certification deemed necessary to ensure compliance with applicable laws and to adequately ensure protection of Ohio water quality and human health. Additionally, the developer may be required to perform environmental quality tests to ensure such adequate protection. O.A.C. § 3745-32-03(K).

14-OH-d.34 – Appeal Decision (If Applicable)

The developer or any person who would be aggrieved or adversely affected by the denial of a 401 WQC may request a review of Ohio EPA’s decision with 60 days of Ohio EPA’s decision. O.A.C. § 3745-47-03(B)(1). The request must be in writing and must state the matter objected to, the questions to be considered at the requested hearing, and the basis for the request or objection. O.A.C. § 3745-47-03(B).

Notice of the hearing must be mailed to all parties to the adjudication at least 30 days before the hearing, as well as to members of the mailing list maintained pursuant to O.R.C. § 3745.07. Notice must also be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the project is located. O.A.C. § 3745-47-04(A). Notice must include the information laid out in O.A.C.§ 3745-47-04(C).

Review is conducted pursuant to O.A.C. §§ 3745-47-01 et seq., Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Procedural Rules and O.A.C. §§ 3745-49-01 et seq., Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Miscellaneous Rules.


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Edit Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
401 Water Quality Certification Supervisor (614) 644-2494 JeffreyabbazabbaBoyles@epaabbazabbaohioabbazabbagov