Water Quality Permits

DEQ has updated the process for certifying the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide permit.

What is a Nationwide Permit?

Nationwide permits are a type of general permit issued by the USACE on a nationwide basis for activities having minimal impacts on the environment. Projects that propose work in water, including in streams and wetlands, may require a USACE permit and 401 Water Quality Certification. The Nationwide Permits cover 54 categories of activities. These are issued every five years.

What is DEQ’s role?

Starting in March 2017, DEQ will begin issuing Nationwide 401 directly to Applicants. DEQ must issue a Nationwide Section 401 WQC before work can be implemented for projects that are processed under the USACE Nationwide Permits. Although DEQ will review these applications, applicants that qualify for a Nationwide Permit are granted a streamlined Nationwide 401 WQC from DEQ. Other proposed projects not covered under the nationwide categories would require an Individual WQC.

DEQ’s fee rule

If a project qualifies for the Nationwide 401 WQC, there will be a fee of $985.

In July 2013, DEQ’s 401 WQC program implemented a new fee structure for projects requiring certification. Prior to this implementation, DEQ met with an advisory committee consisting of a variety of stakeholders ranging from ports, gravel mining operations, construction, environmental groups, etc. This advisory committee recommended the fee change, which was approved by the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission and adopted into rule. This is the first renewal of the Nationwide Permits under the updated fee rule. This is why DEQ is just now implementing the fee rule.


The USACE will be forwarding all applications to DEQ, and will continue to determine what nationwide category is appropriate for each project. As soon as the USACE makes the category determination, DEQ will invoice the applicant and begin review. DEQ will contact you if additional information is needed. DEQ intends to issue the Nationwide 401 WQC to each applicant within 30 days of the USACE determination, as long as the fee is paid and DEQ has all the necessary information to ensure compliance with Oregon’s water quality rules and laws, including a signed Land Use Compatibility Statement and, if required, see the 2018 Post-Construction Stormwater Management Guidelines.

For more information about DEQ's Land Use Compatibility Statement visit the LUCS page.

DEQ has issued a Letter of Intent  to the USACE which explains how DEQ intends to process each nationwide category. For all projects that qualify for the Nationwide 401 WQC, DEQ will issue the same certification. Please see the Nationwide 401 WQC template  for details and conditions.

​Program contacts

Northwest and Eastern Region
Western Region

Download a contacts map