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401 Application Process

Passed by Congress in 1972, the federal Clean Water Act grants states and tribal governments the authority to review and approve, condition or deny proposed projects, actions and activities directly affecting waters of the United States. In Oregon, DEQ is responsible for issuance of Section 401 water quality certifications. 

Under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, federal agencies cannot issue a license or permit before DEQ makes a determination that the project can meet Oregon water quality standards. Any conditions that DEQ sets then become conditions of the federal permit or license.

Pre-application consultation
Applicants may request a pre-application consultation with the Army Corps, DSL, DEQ and other agencies as necessary. This is recommended for large, complex projects. Additional information on this early coordination meeting can be found on Department of State Lands website.

Submit an application
An applicant submits a completed Joint Permit Application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of State Lands and DEQ. Applicants may submit a copy of the application to DEQ through Your DEQ Online to ensure a timely review. Visit the Your DEQ Online Help Page to learn more about this system.

Public notice
Based on the Army Corps' decision about the permit type, the Army Corps will put the permit on public notice, which includes DEQ's public notice. The public notice will include information on how the public may submit comments and questions. DEQ may require a public notice for water quality certifications even if the Army Corps does not.
DEQ review of information and comments
DEQ staff will review project applications, applicant information and public comment to evaluate impacts and determine whether the project is consistent with water quality standards. DEQ has up to one year to issue a decision.

Please note: Projects receiving a 401 water quality certification must meet all other agency requirements and other applicable permits from DEQ, such as a 1200-C Stormwater Discharge Permit.

401 Rule - Updated June 9, 2022

June 9, 2022
The EPA  Administrator signed a new proposed 401 rule, published in the Federal Register, initiating the public comment period which closes on Aug. 8, 2022.

April 6, 2022
The Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision reinstating the 2020 EPA 401 rule. DEQ returned to implementing all requirements and procedures of the 2020 EPA 401 Rule until further notice. As of April 7, 2022, all applicants for new 401 certification are required to submit to DEQ a pre-filing meeting request at least 30-days prior to a request for certification. Forms for both of these requests can be found on DEQ's 401 Resources page and must be submitted through Your DEQ Online. Please contact the 401 Program with any questions regarding these requirements or the submittal process using Your DEQ Online.

Oct. 21, 2021
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an order which vacated and remanded the EPA's 2020 Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule. This decision applied nationwide and required a temporary return to the EPA's 1971 rule. 

Program contacts

Jeff Brittain 
Program Coordinator

Haley Teach
Individual Certifications: Northwest Region

Chance Plunk 

Individual Certifications: Western Region

Ari Sindel
Nationwide Certifications - Statewide