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401 Water Quality Certification (Non-hydropower) and
Coastal Zone Management Consistency Determinations

In 2004, Ecology began posting copies of public notices and decisions for projects requesting a 401 Water Quality Certification and/or Coastal Zone Management Consistency determination.

What is a 401 Water Quality Certification?

What is a Coastal Zone Management Consistency Determination?

Nationwide Permits

2015 Coastal Zone Management Program Updates

The map below shows the different regions for the information on this site. Click on a region for more information.

Ecology's Regions:

  • Southwest: Clark, Clallam, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, Skamania, and Thurston counties.
  • Northwest: Island, King, Kitsap, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom counties.
  • Central: Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Kittitas, Klickitat, Okanogan and Yakima counties.
  • Eastern:  Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman counties. 

What is a 401 Water Quality Certification?

The federal Clean Water Act allows states to approve, condition, or deny projects proposed in waters of the United States, including wetlands. Projects that may result in a discharge to these waters must first receive a permit or license from one of several federal agencies.

Issuance of a 401 Certification means that Ecology has reasonable assurance that the applicant's project will comply with state water quality standards and other aquatic resources protection requirements under Ecology's authority.  The 401 Certification can cover both the constructions and operation of a proposed project. Conditions of the 401 Certification become conditions of the Federal permit or license.

To request a 401 Certification, applicants should submit a Joint Aquatic Resources Permit Application (JARPA), along with any additional information applicable to the project (for example: mitigation plan, restoration plans, etc.) to Ecology's Federal Permit Unit. The JARPA form and additional information is available online at www.epermitting.wa.gov.

For more information on non-hydropower 401 Water Quality Certifications visit the Washington State Governor's Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance's (ORIA) Regulatory Handbook.

What is a Coastal Zone Management Consistency Determination?

Activities and development located within Washington's coastal counties which involve federal activities, federal licenses or permits, and federal assistance programs (funding) require a written Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Consistency Determination by Ecology. Activities & developments performed by or for federal agencies require a CZM determination be submitted stating that the project is consistent with Washington's Coastal Zone Management Program (CZMP) to the "maximum extent practicable." Federal permitted/licensed or federal funded projects require a certification that they are consistent with Washington's CZMP.

For a proposal to be consistent with Washington's CZMP, the project must meet the requirements of the applicable enforcement policies. The six enforceable policies are Washington's Shoreline Management Act (SMA), State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), Clean Water Act (401 Certification, Stormwater permits), Clean Air Act, Ocean Resources Management Act (ORMA), and WA Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC).

When requesting a Coastal Zone Management Consistency determination, Ecology must receive a "Certification of Consistency" form:

Additional information about Washington's Coastal Zone Management Program is available on Ecology's CZM Webpage.

For more information on Coastal Zone Consistency determinations read the CZM Focus Sheet, visit ORIA's Regulatory Handbook, or contact the Federal Consistency Coordinator at ECYREFEDPERMITS@ecy.wa.gov or 360-407-6068.

How are proposed projects reviewed?

Project review is often a collaborative process between Ecology, the permitting Federal agency, and the applicant. Ecology will work with the applicant and applicable permitting agencies to make sure application information is complete, mitigation requirements are being met, and to ensure that projects will meet state water quality standards, coastal resource protection requirements, fish and wildlife habitat standards, and other applicable regulations.

Often a Joint Public Notice is issued by Ecology and the federal agency issuing the permit or license, otherwise Ecology 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.

Washington's 401 Certification decision and CZM Consistency determination provide a strong opportunity to protect and enhance water quality, aquatic species and habitats, water resources, coastal resources, floodplains, and other environmental elements.

For more information visit ORIA's Environmental Permitting website or view the Permit Process Schematics.

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