About Section 401 Water Quality Certification

Section 401 of the Clean Water Act is managed by each State. For information on the 401 programs in Illinois and Indiana, please visit the websites for the respective states.

On October 21, 2021 the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an order vacating and remanding the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2020 regulations implementing Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.  On November 18, 2021, after a temporary pause on permit decisions reliant on a Section 401 water quality certification or waiver completed under the vacated regulations, Corps districts resumed making decisions on all permit applications and requests for nationwide permit verifications.  As part of that decision making process, districts will coordinate with certifying authorities on water quality certifications that are potentially impacted by the vacatur order.

Additional information regarding the vacatur can be found on EPA’s website.

When is 401 Water Quality Certification Required?

Under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, a federal agency, such as the Corps, may not issue a permit or license to conduct any activity that may result in any discharge into waters of the United States unless a certifying authority issues a Section 401 water quality certification (401 WQC) verifying compliance with existing water quality requirements or waives the certification requirement. An individual water quality certification or waiver is required for Department of the Army permits that would result in the discharge of dredged or fill material, unless the discharge is for an activity where a general water quality certification has already been issued.

Many activities that qualify for a General Permit are already granted a general 401 WQC. The Chicago District manages several General Permit programs. Please refer to the respective pages for each of these programs to determine if an individual 401 WQC will be required for your project. If you are unsure, please call our general line at (312) 846-5530 and a member of our staff will assist you.

Whom Should I Contact to Apply for a 401 WQC Determination?

In Illinois, contact the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) for information on the 401 program.  

Illinois EPA Office Coordinator, 401 Permits​:

Morgan Holthaus
Bureau of Water, IEPA
Hours:  8:30-5:30
In-office Tuesdays and Thursdays
Office number: (217) 785-6858
Email: Morgan.Holthaus@Illinois.gov

In Indiana, contact the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) for information on the 401 program.

IDEM Point-Of-Contact for 401:​

Marty Maupin
Office of Water Quality
Phone: 317-233-2471
Email: mmaupin@idem.in.gov