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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.

1. For Standard Individual Permit Reviews: Submit a pre-filing meeting request to DEQ at least 30 days prior to submitting a 401 Dredge-Fill Certification Application request. View: Pre-filing Meeting Request Form.

  • Use the (401) Dredge-Fill Supporting Materials submittal template in Your DEQ Online to submit the pre-filing meeting request.
*Projects under a Nationwide Permit category: skip to Step 2.

2. Submit a Request for a 401 Certification Application through Your DEQ Online.
  • Use the “(401) Dredge-Fill Certification Application" submittal template in Your DEQ Online.
  • DEQ will accept the Joint Permit Application or the USACE Pre-Construction Notification form.
  • Complete 401 water quality applications must include: the JPA or PCN form, including local land use approval, and the Request for Certification Form.

Visit the Your DEQ Online Help Page to learn more about this system.

3. Public notice
Based on the USACE decision about the permit type, the USACE will put the permit application 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 separate public notice for water quality certifications even if the USACE does not issue a public notice.

4. 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 updates

​Aug. 9, 2022  
The EPA Administrator signed a new proposed 401 improvement rule on June 1, 2022, which was published in the Federal Register, initiating the public comment period from June 9, 2022 to Aug. 8, 2022. At this time, the 2020 Rule remains in effect and 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.​

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 should 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

Haley Teach
401 Program Coordinator 

Amber Clark
Individual Certifications for Western Region and Eastern Region

Shelley Tattam
Individual Certifications for Northwest Region

Delia Negru
Nationwide certifications statewide