401 Water Quality Certification

When is a 401 Water Quality Certification Needed?

Section 401 of the Clean Water Act requires any applicant for a federal license or permit which may result in a discharge into waters of the United States must obtain a water quality certification from the certifying authority that the discharge complies with all applicable water quality requirements.

How is a 401 Water Quality Certification Requested?

Per 11 Administrative Code Part 6 Rule 1.3.2 –
The application for certification shall be the public notice issued by the Federal permitting or licensing agency. The date of receipt of the public notice will be considered the date of application for certification if the application is deemed complete by the Department. To be deemed complete by the Department, all applications for certification shall at a minimum contain the information that follows:

(1) the name, address, phone numbers, principal place of business of the applicant and, if applicable, the name and address of the agent for the applicant;
(2) a complete description of the proposed activity, including the location, adjacent waterbody(s), purpose and intent of the project, maps, drawings, and plans (detailed engineering plans and specifications are not required);
(3) a description of all proposed discharges and/or other activities associated with the proposed activity, including planned or proposed future development by the applicant;
(4) a description of the composition, source, and quantity of any material to be dredged or used as fill and a description of the area to be impacted;
(5) the method of dredging or filling and specific plans to be used for disposal and control of dredged material; and
(6) the names and addresses of adjacent property owners.

Pre-filing Meeting Request

Pre-filing Meeting Request is a required portion of the 401 WQC process requiring the applicant to request a meeting with the MS Department of Environmental Quality to discuss any projects requiring 401 Water Quality Certifications in the early planning stages.

All requests for a pre-filing meeting for a Section 401 Water Quality Certification per 40 CFR 121.4 must be provided in writing to MDEQ at least 30 days prior to submitting a certification request. All requests for a pre-filing meeting must be submitted through the portal. All requests must be addressed to Ms. Florance Bass (or Krystal Rudolph), Environmental Permits Division. All request submitted after regular business hours will be considered received the next business day. The project proponent should provide a list of other required state, interstate, tribal, territorial, and federal authorizations and to describe the anticipated timeline for construction and operation. In addition project proponents are encouraged to address the review factors in the Scope of Review for 401 Water Quality Certifications outlined in 11 Administrative Code Part 6 Rule 1.3.4.A as part of the meeting request.