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Oregon 401 Water Quality Certification (14-OR-d)

Section 401 of the Clean Water Act requires that any federal license or permit to conduct any activity that may result in a discharge to waters of the United States must first receive a water quality certification from the state in which the activity will occur. This requirement allows each state an opportunity to ensure that federally approved activities will meet their water quality standards. In Oregon, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is the body responsible for reviewing proposed projects under this requirement (OAR 340-048-0015).

DEQ recommends a pre-application meeting at the conceptual design state for any complex project requiring removal/fill permits. Suggested parties for the meeting include:

For most projects, submittal of the Joint Permit Application to the Army Corps also begins the 401 Water Quality Certification process. Joint Permit Application materials and instructions can be found at:

In addition, DEQ staff are available by email or phone during the detailed design phase of a project to answer application and process questions.

401 Water Quality Certification Process

14-OR-d.1 - Will the Army Corps Issue a Regional or Nationwide 404 Permit?

The Army Corps will determine which type of permit is necessary for the proposed project. For more information on the dredge and fill process, navigate to the following flowchart:

Dredge & Fill Permit:

If the Army Corps issues a nationwide or regional general permit, the developer will not have to follow the individual 401 certification process. However, the project may require submitting a Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plan to DEQ for approval if an impervious surface is included in the scope of the project. See element 14-OR-d.10 for more information.

14-OR-d.2 - Application for Certification

When a nationwide or regional general permit is not used by the Army Corps, the developer will have to follow a more involved 401 review process with DEQ. The developer should submit all application information to DEQ and the Army Corps will publish its 30-day public notice period for the proposed permit. Application information requirements can be found in more detail in OAR 340-048-0020.

14-OR-d.3 to 14-OR-d.4 - Review Water Quality Impact Information and Request Additional Information (As Necessary)

DEQ will review the water quality impact information in the application for certification and will request any additional information necessary to complete the application and notify the applicant by certified mail of the date the application is received and determined as complete (OAR 340-048-0020(3), (4)).

14-OR-d.4 - Comment on 404 Army Corps Permit Within 30 Days

For individual permits, DEQ will comment within the 30-days public comment period to the propose Army Corps permit. The intent is to conduct the 401 review within a single process to solicit comments from the public on water quality issues during the same public comment period as the dredge/fill permit from the Army Corps. For projects which specifically fit under a nationwide dredge/fill permit, but have been denied 401 certification, DEQ will publish its own 35-day public notice to solicit comments in accordance with OAR 340-048-0027. If necessary, a public hearing will be granted when 10 ore more persons request a hearing.

14-OR-d.5 to 14-OR-d.6 - Assess Appropriate Fee for Proposed Activity

DEQ will also assess the applicable fee required for the proposed activity based on the removal/fill of materials in cubic yards in accordance with OAR 340-048-0055.

14-OR-d.7 to 14-OR-d.9 - Conduct 401 Water Quality Certification Evaluation

The 401 Water Quality Certification Evaluation begins with DEQ evaluating all public comments and incorporating them into its initial review of the application for certification. DEQ will consider the following elements in its evaluation process:

  1. waterway(s) affected by the proposal (including tributaries, adjacent wetlands or other waters, and groundwater);
  2. beneficial uses of affected water(s);
  3. potential water quality parameters affected by proposal and potential effects to beneficial uses (including an antidegradation review);
  4. proposed measures to avoid, minimize, or mitigate water quality impacts;
  5. whether proposed measures are adequate, or whether conditions can be identified as necessary to protect water quality standards and comply with regulations;
  6. alternatives, methods, or management practices for portions of the proposal to reduce negative effects, protect water quality, and comply with regulations

If protection of water quality standards, beneficial uses, and antidegradation cannot be assured, the 401 certification must be denied. (See 401 Evaluation and Findings Checklist).

14-OR-d.10 to 14-OR-d.11 - Will the Activity Develop any Impervious Surface?

If the project involved any impervious surface DEQ requires an additional Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plan. Examples of nationwide permits requiring this plan include category #3, 14, 15, 29, 36, 39, and 42. The Plan requires identification of pollutants by project type, selection of Best Management Practices (BMPs) to target expected pollutants, and may also require documentation of any relevant MS-4 permits involved.

However, if no impervious surface is implicated in the proposed project, then there is no additional requirement for a post-construction stormwater management plan.

14-OR-d.12 - No Permit Needed; Continue With Project

If no impervious surface is involved and the project has already obtained the necessary 401 certification, no further permit is required and the developer may proceed with the project.

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Contact Information

Edit Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
State Underground Injection Control Permitting Contact COLEabbazabbaDavid@deqabbazabbastateabbazabbaorabbazabbaus Visit Website

Edit Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Geothermal Contact 541.687.7427 masonabbazabbabill@deqabbazabbastateabbazabbaorabbazabbaus Visit Website