401 Certification Best Practices Report

ASWM January 2012

Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act provides states with the authority to ensure that federal agencies will not issue permits or licenses that violate the water quality standards, or other applicable authorities, of a state or tribe through a process known as water quality certification.  The importance of Section 401 certification in assuring states continued control over their aquatic resources has been well established. During 2010 and 2011, the Association of State Wetland Managers (ASWM) undertook an assessment of a number of representative state wetland programs that rely on Section 401 in their dredge and fill permit programs – that is, in evaluation of permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, as well as other federal permits such as FERC hydropower licenses.  The goal of this assessment was to shed light on the effectiveness of state Section 401 programs, barriers to the full use of this authority, and practices that exemplify the most effective use of Section 401. To read the full report, Section 401 Certification Best Practices in Dredge and Fill Permit Programs, click here.