Dredge & Fill Permits
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act establishes a program to regulate the discharge of dredged and fill material into waters of the United States. Section 404 permits are issued and enforced by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and are overseen by EPA. The basic premise of Section 404 is that dredged or fill material cannot be discharged into water if the nation's waters would be significantly degraded or if a feasible alternative exists that is less damaging to the aquatic environment. A Section 404 permit is required before dredge and fill actitvities may take place.
Activities regulated under this program include such things as fills for development, water resource projects (e.g., dams), infrastructure development (e.g., highways), and other water-related construction activities. The Corps may authorize activities with one of the following three types of Section 404 permits:
- an individual permit
- a nationwide permit
- a regional permit
While individual permits are usually required for projects with potentially significant impacts, nationwide permits or regional permits encompass many similar, relatively small projects that will have only minimal adverse impacts. Examples of activities that are currently covered under nationwide permits are culvert maintenance, stream restoration, bank stabilization, and construction of utility lines.
DEQ's role in the Section 404 permitting process entails issuing §401 certifications that the actions authorized by the permits do not violate Idaho water quality standards. DEQ coordinates closely with the Corps during the certification process of Section 404 permits.
The certification process varies depending on the type of permit the Corps issues for a project. For example, DEQ has already issued a §401 certification for the majority of nationwide permits. When the Corps receives an application for a project that can be authorized by one of these permits, there is no need for additional certification by DEQ. However, the activities covered under these permits must comply with the terms and conditions of the §401 certification. For individual §404 permits and activities covered by NWP 12, 14, 16, or 17, DEQ provides §401 certification on a project-by-project basis.
DEQ has up to one year to provide a 401 certification decision; however, the Corps generally requests DEQ issue a 401 certification decision within 60 days. DEQ will notify the Corps when additional time (not to exceed one year) is necessary to complete the project review and certification process. Within the timeframe, DEQ provides an opportunity for the public to comment on its draft §401 certifications by posting our draft certifications to our website. Public comment periods typically last for 21 days, although DEQ may offer shorter or longer time frames if justified. DEQ also posts its final certification decisions to the web. Learn more about the certification process.