Permit Fact Sheet
- What is the purpose of these certifications?
A 401 Water Quality Certification is required under the federal Clean Water Act for certain activities in wetlands and waters. This law gives states the authority to review projects that must obtain federal licenses or permits and that result in a discharge to state waters. The purpose of state 401 review is to ensure that a project will comply with state water quality standards and other appropriate requirements of state law.
Statutory authority for this certification is stated in the federal Clean Water Act, 33 USC 1341, and the Massachusetts Clean Water Act, MGL Chapter 21, sections 26-53. Regulatory authority for this certification is found in 314 CMR 9.00. Water quality standards referenced in the certification are found in 314 CMR 4.00.
- Who must apply?
All persons who propose any activity that results in a discharge of dredged material, dredging, or dredged material disposal greater than 100 cubic yards to waters subject to regulation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or other federal agency, must obtain a 401 Water Quality Certification for Dredging Activities.
Examples of activities requiring certification include dredging of land under water. If no federal permit is needed for an activity, then no 401 certification is required from MassDEP. For information on the applicability of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, or Section 9 or 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, the applicant is advised to consult the Corps of Engineers at 1-800-362-4367.
All persons who propose discharges or fill activities in wetlands or waters should complete the 401 Water Quality Certification for Fill and Excavation Projects in Waters and Wetlands application form, which is a separate form from this application.
There are three categories of water quality certification: major project (BRP WW 07), minor project (BRP WW 08) certifications and Amendment of Certification for Dredging (BRP WW 09). BRP WW 07 was formerly BRP WP 39, BRP WW 08 was formerly BRP WP 40, and BRP WW 09 was formerly BRP WP 54.
Major Dredge Project Certification (BRP WW 07):
Major project certification includes the dredging of 5,000 cubic yards (c.y.) or greater.
Minor Dredge Project Certification (BRP WW 08):
Minor project certification includes: projects not listed in the major project certification category; and those projects involving dredging less than 5,000 c.y. but more than 100 c.y.
Amendment of Certification for Dredging (BRP WW 09):
If a water quality certification has been issued for a dredging project and the project is subsequently revised, the certification is not valid. An amended certification may be requested for project modifications, such as changes in the dredging area, dredged material volume, or construction methods for dredging or disposal. In addition, a change in one or more of the special conditions of certification may be allowed through an amended certification. See the BRP WW 09 application form at the end of this package.
- What other requirements should be considered when applying for these certifications?
Applicants proposing dredging activities in Outstanding Resource Waters (as designated in 314 CMR 4.00) are required to publish notice in the Environmental Monitor, pursuant to MEPA regulations, 301 CMR 11.00.
Projects requiring 401 Water Quality Certification generally also are subject to the WPA (MGL c. 131, sec. 40) and its regulations (310 CMR 10.00). In addition, some projects may require MEPA review. Please carefully examine 301 CMR 11.00, the MEPA Regulations, to determine if your project exceeds the MEPA review thresholds, or for more information contact: MEPA Unit, Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, 100 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02202, 617-727-5830). MassDEP cannot complete technical review of the permit application until the MEPA process has been concluded. Copies of MEPA filings and certificates (with reference to any applicable Transmittal numbers) should be sent to the Waterways Program in Boston.
State Agencies may not issue state permits until 60 days after a Final Environmental Impact Report, if required, has been noticed in the Environmental Monitor (301 CMR 11.20(1).
Note: These additional requirements are intended to serve as a guide to the applicant. It does not necessarily include all additional requirements.
- What are the application fees for these certifications?
Current fees are available on the MassDEP Website: Permit Application Timelines and Fees Schedule
- What is the Primary Permit Location? What is the Reserve Copy Location?
Primary Permit Location:
For all projects involving more than 100 c.y. of dredging or disposal of dredged material in waters (BRP WW 07, 08 and 09):
Department of Environmental Protection
1 Winter Street
Boston, MA 02108
There are no reserve copy locations.
- Where can I get a copy of the timelines?
The timelines are available on the MassDEP Website: Permit Application Timelines and Fees Schedule
- What is the annual compliance fee?
There is no annual compliance assurance fee for water quality certifications.
- How long are these certifications in effect?
Water quality certifications for dredging are in effect for the completion of the proposed project, unless there is a term for maintenance dredging or time limitation stated in the certification.
- How can I avoid the most common mistakes made in applying for these certifications?
- For dredging projects, indicate the depth and show the location of all sediment samples, indicate if samples were composited before analysis, and provide a copy of the analytical report from the laboratory.
- Be sure any vegetated wetland boundaries are clearly indicated on plans for projects in vegetated wetlands.
- Be sure construction methods and sequence of activities in wetlands and waters are clearly described.
- Be sure all applicable supplemental documents are provided with your application, including project plans and MEPA certificates.
- Submit fee and one copy of the MassDEP Transmittal Form to: Department of Environmental Protection, P.O. Box 4062, Boston, MA 02211.
- What are the regulations that apply to these certifications and where can I get copies?
These regulations include, but are not limited to:
- 401 Water Quality Certification Regulations, 314 CMR 9.00
- Surface Water Quality Standards, 314 CMR 4.00
- Wetlands Protection Act Regulations, 310 CMR 10.00.
- Timely Action Schedule and Fee Provisions, 310 CMR 4.00
- Rules for Adjudicatory Hearings, 310 CMR 1.00
- Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Regulations, 301 CMR 11.00.