The federal Clean Water Act enables states to approve, condition, or deny projects proposed in waters of the United States — including wetlands — when a federal permit is needed.
Issuance of a Section 401 Certification under the federal Clean Water Act means that we have reasonable assurance an applicant's project will comply with state water quality standards and other requirements for protecting aquatic resources. The Section 401 Certification can cover both construction and operation of a proposed project. Conditions of the Section 401 Certification become conditions of a federal permit or license.
Washington's Section 401 Certifications provide a strong opportunity to protect and enhance water quality, aquatic species and habitats, water resources, coastal resources, floodplains, and other environmental elements.
How to apply for a certification
To request a Section 401 Certification, applicants should submit a Joint Aquatic Resources Permit Application (JARPA), along with any additional information applicable to the project (e.g., mitigation plan, restoration plans, etc.) to our Federal Permit Unit by email or postal mail to:
Washington Department of Ecology
Attention Federal Permit Unit
PO Box 47600
Olympia WA 98504
How are proposed projects reviewed?
Project review is often a collaborative process between Ecology, the federal permitting agency, and the applicant. We will work with the applicant and applicable permitting agencies to make sure application information is adequate and, if needed, mitigation is proposed. We review projects for reasonable assurance that they will meet state water quality standards, coastal resource protection requirements, fish and wildlife habitat standards, and other applicable regulations.
A public notice is often issued jointly by Ecology and the federal agency issuing the permit or license; otherwise we will issue a separate public notice for the project. Each public notice will include a comment period during which the public, federal, state, and local agencies, tribes, and other interested parties can submit comments on the proposed project.
Comments can be submitted by mail or email and will be made part of the official record.