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§401 Water Quality Certification

Effective September 11, 2020: Due to changes in federal regulation 40 CFR Part 121: STATE CERTIFICATION OF ACTIVITIES REQUIRING A FEDERAL LICENSE OR PERMIT, the process for receiving a §401 Water Quality Certification has changed.  Application instructions and requirements are on the Apply for Certification webpage.

The §401 Water Quality Certification Program of the Division of Water is the Commonwealth’s review and authorization of selected federal licenses and permits. Any person, firm, or agency (including federal, state, and local government agencies) planning to work in jurisdictional waters of the United States, or dump or place dredged or fill material in waters of the United States should contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) office in your area and the Division of Water, Water Quality Certification Section to obtain a permit.

Examples of federal licenses and permits subject to §401 Water Quality Certification include Clean Water Act §404 permits for discharge of dredged or fill material issued by the USACE, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) hydropower licenses, and Rivers and Harbors Act §9 and §10 permits for activities that have a potential discharge in navigable waters issued by the USACE. 

A §401 Water Quality Certification from the Commonwealth of Kentucky affirms that the discharge will not violate Kentucky's water quality standards.

Examples of activities that may require a certification from the Division of Water, Water Quality Certification Section include:

  • Placement of dredged or fill materials into waters and/or wetlands
  • Structural fill such as culverts and bridge supports
  • Road and utility crossings
  • Gravel mining/removal
  • In-stream basins
  • Dredging, excavation, channel widening, or straightening
  • Flooding, excavating, draining and/or filling a wetland
  • Bank sloping; stabilization
  • Stream channel relocation
  • Water diversions
  • Divert, obstruct or change the natural flow or bed of any surface waters and/or wetlands
  • Construct a barrier across a stream, channel, or watercourse that will create a reservoir: dams, weirs, dikes, levees or other similar structures

EPA Overview of §401 Certification

Summary of the Clean Water Act