United States Army Corps of Engineers
SECTION 401 WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION
Los Angeles District Regulatory Division
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
In 1972, the U.S. Congress enacted the Clean Water Act (CWA) to "restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation's waters." The term "waters" has a broad definition which includes lakes, reservoirs and wetlands as well as perennial and ephemeral watercourses. (Perennial watercourses flow continuously, while ephemeral ones flow in response to rainfall.)
Section 404 of the CWA regulates the discharge of dredged or fill material within these waters and establishes a permit program to ensure compliance with environmental requirements. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers administers the Section 404 Permitting Program in Arizona. All individual 404 permits are subject to a public interest review. Under CWA's Section 401, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) reviews activities for water quality compliance. Other agencies are authorized to review related environmental protection regulations. The State Water Quality Certification Review assesses the impact of permits issued by federal agencies, including COE, the Environmental Protection Agency, Coast Guard, Departments of Energy and Interior, and the Federal Aviation Administration.
ADEQ provides conditions for protecting water quality which the COE includes in the 404 Permit. Other agencies also are involved in the review process and work closely with ADEQ to ensure all environmental protection concerns are addressed.
Section 404 of the CWA prohibits the deposition of unpermitted fill. The COE determines who is subject to regulation. The State Water Quality Certification Review evaluates proposed projects for compliance with State Water Quality Standards and for consistency with approved water quality planning and management programs. ADEQ may grant or deny certification for any Section 404 Permit based on the project's anticipated effect on water quality.
ADEQ will issue a Letter of Certification if the applicant demonstrates that the proposed activity or facility will not cause or contribute to the violation of State Water Quality Standards or conditions established by the Water Quality Control Council. Construction plans, specifications and technical reports serve as the principal sources of information for the Certification Review.
It is important that water pollution control needs are identified early in the planning phase of a project so that water quality protection features are incorporated into the initial design.
Applicants for Section 404 permits must demonstrate that environmental requirements are met.
At this time there is no fee for ADEQ review or for a State Water Quality Certification.
WHO IS SUBJECT TO STATE WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION?
At the present time, ADEQ reviews all individual and some nationwide Section 404 Permits. If COE has not yet determined that your project needs a Section 404 Permit, you should contact COE and request a jurisdictional review.
WHAT ARE THE STEPS IN STATE WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION FOR A SECTION 404 PERMIT?
- Obtain from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) the following determinations about your proposal:
- Is it regulated by Section 404 of the Clean Water Act?
(If it is not regulated by Section 404, Certification is not required.)
- If it is regulated by Section 404, is an ADEQ Water Quality Certification required?
(If the answer is yes go to step 2. If the answer is no, you may proceed without ADEQ Certification Review because either (a) ADEQ has Pre-Certified the activity for the period of January 1992 through December 1996 or (b) the project is within an Indian Reservation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for certification.
- Meet with ADEQ Surface Water Quality Certification Review staff.
(This will help identify water quality protection features and information needs during initial planning and evaluation. Other ADEQ permits/ approvals may be applicable and can be identified.)
- Contact the ADEQ Project Reviewer to determine the information required to initiate the Certification Review.
- Keep ADEQ and all related agencies, informed of changes and please respond to information requests as soon as possible.
- Although not required by ADEQ or COE, please contact appropriate agencies about key project plans and features, prior to the issuance of the Public Notice by the COE.
WHO WILL PERFORM THE STATE WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION REVIEW?
With the exception of projects on Indian Reservations-which are certified by EPA- ADEQ personnel from Phoenix and Tucson perform the Certification Review. The permitting process begins with the Surface Water Quality Certification staff in Phoenix.
FACTORS CONSIDERED IN ISSUING THE STATE WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION
- Will the project cause or contribute to (a) degradation of the quality of the waters of the State or (b) violation of State Water Quality Standards?
- Are there practical alternatives which have less impact on water quality and the water course ecosystem?
- Have steps been taken to avoid, minimize and mitigate adverse impacts on water quality and the ecosystems?
- Is the information sufficient to determine compliance?
STATE REQUIREMENTS FOR ACTIVITIES WITHIN WATERCOURSES
To review specific legal provisions protecting watercourses, see:
- Arizona Revised Statutes, Title 49, Environment;
- Arizona Administrative Code, Title 18, Chapter 11, Article 1, Water Quality Standards for Navigable Waters;
- The Water Quality Control Council's Policy for Construction and Related Activities in Water;
- The Governor's Executive Orders No. 89-16 on Riparian Resources and No. 91-6, Protection of Riparian Areas;
- And the 1990 Final Report and Recommendation of the Governor's Riparian Habitat Task Force.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO SPEED THE STATE WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION REVIEW PROCESS?
Be sure to ask the COE if the Section 404 regulatory program applies to your case.
- Contact ADEQ early in the project, ideally during the initial planning phase. This will speed up the permitting process by defining requirements and identifying information needs and water quality protection opportunities. ADEQ will work with the applicant to evaluate practical alternatives to preserve water quality and riparian features.
- Provide the ADEQ reviewer with complete and current copies of requested materials for the Certification Review. These may include construction plans, USGS maps, photographs, hydrologic reports, and a report on how adverse impacts to the watercourse will be avoided, minimized or mitigated.
- If plans, reports or maps are revised, please provide ADEQ with updated copies.
- Provide revised information to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other interested agencies (such as the Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. EPA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) to keep them up to date on changes in your proposed project.
- Help keep the doors of communication open during the review process. We may call on you several times to answer questions or hold meetings. These contacts will aid in our review. By all means, call us if you have any questions.
- Please recognize that each project requires site specific review and is judged on its merits for preserving or enhancing water quality. Early contact of ADEQ and the COE will ensure that site specific project design or requirements are identified early in project planning.
GENERAL SECTION 404 PROGRAM INFORMATION:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Regulatory Program
3636 N. Central Avenue, Suite 900
STATE CERTIFICATION OF 404 PERMITS:
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
1110 W. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
voice: (602) 771-4502
OTHER ADEQ WATER QUALITY PROGRAMS:
WATER POLLUTION COMPLAINTS
Groundwater (602) 207-4417
Surface Water (602) 207-4501
FACILITIES COMPLAINTS AND INSPECTIONS
Central Arizona (602) 207-4402
Northern Arizona (520) 779-0313
Nonpoint Source Management (602) 207-4512
Pesticide Management (602) 207-4552
Groundwater (602) 207-4697
NPDES & Reuse (602) 207-4665
Arizona Toll-Free 800-234-5677
Automated Information Line (602) 207-4300