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Water Quality Certifications for Projects Requiring a Federal Permit

Regulated Activities

In accordance with Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, applicants for a Federal license or permit for activities (including but not limited to the construction or operation of facilities that may result in any discharge into waters of the United States) are required to apply for and obtain a Water Quality Certification from DEC indicating that the proposed activity will not violate water quality standards.

Water Quality Certification is required for: Placing fill or undertaking activities resulting in a discharge to waters of the United States where, for example, a permit is required from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Some examples of activities requiring a Water Quality Certification are:

  • those activities described above, under each Protection of Waters category, that involve placement of fill in waters of the United States;
  • temporary discharges of decant waters from dredge material disposal sites or from barges and vessels.

Exempt Activities

An exemption from the requirement to obtain an individual Water Quality Certification is for certain activities deemed to have an insignificant effect on water quality, which have been issued a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide 404 Permit and for which DEC has correspondingly issued a blanket statewide Water Quality Certification.

Is Your Project Minor or Major?

Review time frames, procedures and requirements for public notice for applications are different for Minor and Major projects under the Uniform Procedures Act requirements (6NYCRR Part 621). Generally, Minor projects have shorter review time frames and require less public review.

Minor Water Quality Certification projects include those projects which will not exceed the Minor project thresholds for Protection of Waters Permits, Freshwater Wetlands Permits or Tidal Wetlands Permits, and which do not involve the approval of construction and operation of hydroelectric generating facilities. All other projects are Major.

For additional information see our web page Getting an Environmental Permit.

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