Basic Information on CWA Section 401 Certification
Under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA), a federal agency may not issue a permit or license to conduct any activity that may result in any discharge into waters of the United States unless a Section 401 water quality certification is issued, verifying compliance with water quality requirements, or certification is waived. States and authorized tribes where the discharge would originate are generally responsible for issuing water quality certifications. In cases where a state or tribe does not have authority, EPA is responsible for issuing certification. Some of the major federal licenses and permits subject to Section 401 include:
- Clean Water Act Section 402 and 404 permits (in non-delegated states),
- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) licenses for hydropower facilities and natural gas pipelines, and
- Rivers and Harbors Act Section 9 and 10 permits.
A federal agency may not issue a license or permit for an activity that may result in a discharge into a water of the United States without a water quality certification or waiver.