Section 401 of the Clean Water Act requires applicants of federal licenses and permits that may result in a discharge into waters of the United States to obtain a water quality certification or waiver from a certifying authority. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality serves as the certifying authority for activities within the boundaries of the state of Louisiana. A water quality certification is used to determine whether an activity, as described in the federal license or permit, will comply with applicable provisions of Sections 301, 302, 303, 306, and 307 of the Clean Water Act. A water quality certification is not a permit to perform the activity; however, federal licenses or permits may not be issued without it. The most common federal license or permit requiring certification is the United States Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Act Section 404 permit.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently updated the CWA Section 401 Rule (https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-40/chapter-I/subchapter-D/part-121?toc=1). The USACE, New Orleans District (MVN) and Vicksburg District (MVK) process permit applications subject to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act and/or Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. To comply with the requirements of the updated 2023 CWA 401 Certification Rule, MVN and MVK request that project proponents (i.e. applicants) continue to follow the established procedures for submitting a MVN or MVK permit application. The procedures are different depending upon whether the project is located within the coastal zone or outside of the coastal zone, but both procedures include options for electronic submission.
These procedures are located at: https://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Permits/ (New Orleans District) and https://www.mvk.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Permits/ (Vicksburg District).
Once your permit application is received, MVN will provide you with additional instructions detailing the steps to request a water quality certification. If your project is covered by a general or nationwide 404 permit, it may be eligible for a blanket water quality certification. The LDEQ has issued blanket water quality certifications for several general and nationwide permits issued by the Corps: https://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Permits/General-Permits/.
If your project is not covered bya a general or nationwide permit, 40 CFR 121.4 requires a pre-file meeting request is submitted to the certifying authority at least 30 days prior to submitting a certification request. Please submit the pre-file meeting request to: DEQ-WaterQualityCertifications@la.gov.
Include in this request:
Please include in the submission a statement that this is a request for a pre-file meeting.
A shortening or waiver of the required 30-day pre-filing meeting request will only be considered on a case-by-case basis for emergency conditions not covered by any current emergency orders.
Application for certification can be made at completion of the pre-file meeting request 30 day time limit by submitting the ENG Form 4345 (application or equivalent OCM JPA, PCN, etc.), and permit application figures submitted for federal permitting to: DEQ-WaterQualityCertifications@la.gov.
Please include in the submission that this is a request for an application for water quality certification.
Per 40 CFR 121.5(b)(7), include documentation that a pre-filing meeting request was submitted to the certifying authority at least 30 days prior to submitting the certification request.
Additional application requirements are located at:
As mailbox space is limited (20 MB). PLEASE DO NOT INCLUDE ANY STUDIES, REPORTS OR PLANS when applying.
The following links are for the permitting agencies:
For any questions or comments about Water Quality Certification process, please call Elizabeth Hill at (225)219-3225, or send an email to DEQ-WaterQualityCertifications@la.gov