Additional Requirements for 401 Certification Applications as a Result of the Reinstatement of the Trump Administration's Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule
On April 6, 2022, the United States Supreme Court issued an order staying a lower court’s vacatur of the Trump Administration’s 2020 "Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule" (“Federal Rule”). As a result of the United States Supreme Court order, the Trump Administration’s Federal Rule has sprung back into effect.
The Trump Administration’s Federal Rule imposes additional procedural requirements on applicants for 401 Certifications and on DWR’s processing of those applications. One requirement is that 401 applicants must request a pre-filing meeting request at least 30 days prior to submitting their 401 application. [40 C.F.R. §121.4] In turn, the Federal Rule requires that applicants include documentation of their pre-filing meeting request in their 401 Certification application. [40 C.F.R §121.1; 40 C.F.R. §121.5]. Please refer to the Federal Rule or the EPA Q&A document posted on their CWA Section 401 Certification webpage for more information.
The Division has developed a Pre-Filing Meeting Request email address: 401PreFile@ncdenr.gov to accept the federally required pre-filing meeting request. The email address will provide confirmation receipt of submittal to the applicant.
(Please note that the Pre-Filing Meeting Request email address is not monitored. In the event that you do not receive a confirmation email, please save a copy of your sent email for your records and, if necessary, provide this with your application submittal. If you need assistance with your application or your project requires or would benefit from a scoping meeting with the project manager before applying, please refer to this contact list to contact your regional representative directly.)
Per 40 CFR §121 and §121.5, a 401 Certification application that does not include the required pre-filing meeting request documentation does not constitute a “certification request.” As a result of the reinstatement of the Trump Administration’s Federal Rule, all 401 applications received after April 6, 2022 that do not have documentation that a pre-filing meeting request was submitted at least 30 days prior to submittal of a 401 Certification application will be returned as incomplete.
*NEW Floating Cabin 401 Certification Information
Click here for updates on requirements and application instructions for floating cabin owners.
Procedural Adjustments in Response to COVID-19
Division staff have adopted alternate schedules and telework locations and continue to accept and process applications. However, WE WILL ONLY ACCEPT ELECTRONIC SUBMISSIONS at this time. It is important to stress the need for applicants to submit accurate and reliable information in order to ensure that requests are processed in the quickest timeframe possible. Please correspond by EMAIL when possible to further ensure the most expedited response. Your patience and cooperation are greatly appreciated.
From this landing page, you'll be able to access all the DWR 401 & Buffer Permitting electronic submittal forms listed below as well as DWR Non-discharge and NPDES Wastewater and DEMLR Stormwater forms.
Electronic PCN Form Submittal (for 401 WQC, Isolated Wetlands/Water Permit, Buffer Authorization)
General Application Form / Supplemental Info Upload (for submittal of Individual Permit applications, modifications, uploading printed/ hard copy PCN submittals, additional information responses, supplemental or other non-PCN related application or project information, re-issuance/renewal requests, and stream/ buffer appeal requests)
Links to the PCN Form and Help Document are also available via the USACE website.
Please see the 401 & Isolated Wetlands / Waters Program page for additional information regarding certification/ permit fees & procedures.
Online Mitigation Project Information Submittal
Electronic Mitigation Project Information Upload Form (Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to use the form)
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) amended its regulations that govern existing non-navigable houseboats and floating houses (now called floating cabins) located on the Tennessee River and its tributaries. The final rule became effective October 12, 2021 and established permitting standards that include the requirement for floating cabins to register with the TVA and obtain coverage under a TVA 26a permit. For more information regarding the 26a permit, please refer to TVA’s Floating Cabins webpage: https://www.tva.com/environment/shoreline-construction-permits/floating-cabins.
These TVA-issued 26a permits require a state 401 Water Quality Certification from NC DWR to certify that the project/activity for which the federal (TVA) permit is issued will not degrade waters of the state or violate state water quality standards. Existing floating cabins that are eligible for a 26a Permit from the Tennessee Valley Authority qualify for coverage under DWR’s General Certification 4989 (GC 4989) unless they are unable to comply with the conditions listed in GC 4989. Floating cabins not eligible for coverage under this General Certification require an Individual 401 Water Quality Certification or waiver from NC DWR.
No application is required for a General 401 Certification provided that the owners of the floating cabin have registered with the TVA, are eligible for a 26a permit, and comply with the conditions listed in NC DWR’s GC 4989. Floating cabin owners are automatically covered under GC 4989 as long as compliance with it is maintained.
To apply for an Individual 401 Certification, requestors must submit a pre-filing meeting request, then upon meeting the 30 day requirement, submit a completed and signed Pre-Construction Notification (PCN) form and pay the required fee. (See PCN information in the paragraphs below and this Floating Cabin Info Sheet for more information regarding application submittals.)
Electronic Shoreline Stabilization Form Submittal (Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to use the form.)
Application Form for Lake Area Residence Work (i.e.. "Shoreline Stabilization" - download/print fillable form)
Shoreline Stabilization Help Document (formerly posted as "A Lake Dweller's Guide to the 401 Water Quality Certification Process")
Notification of Work in Trout Watersheds
This notification form is required as indicated in the general certifications (GC #4134 and GC #4135) corresponding to Nationwide Permits 13 and 14.
Notification of Work in Trout Watershed Form (Word doc)
Division of Water Resources (DWR) staff determine the presence and location of waters of the State, including streams. To schedule a stream determination, please contact one of our Regional Offices. For stream determinations in counties served by the Raleigh Regional Office, please complete and submit a "Stream Origin / Buffer Applicability Determination" form. Click on the appropriate link below to download the form or enter your information electronically.
To schedule an Express stream determination (in the Washington and Wilmington regions only), please click here to find information regarding Express Review and download an Express form.
Stream determinations are made using the standardized Methodology for Identification of Intermittent and Perennial Streams and Their Origins developed by the Division. The current version is 4.11 effective September 1, 2010, available through the links below. Training in the stream methodology is required to effectively and accurately apply it. Current course information is available at the Stream ID Courses webpage.
For a list of certified individuals click here.
North Carolina Stream ID Manual Version 4.11
North Carolina Stream ID Form Version 4.11
North Carolina Stream ID Manual Version 4.11 Description of Updates
Trimble Data Dictionary NC DWQ Stream ID Version 4.11 (click and SAVE file)
Please use the following for projects seeking approval for activities within protected riparian buffers that do not impact surface waters (streams, wetlands or open waters). For those projects that do have impacts to surface waters (streams, wetlands or open waters), please use the PCN form or submit your information via the Electronic PCN Form.
If your project is within the jurisdiction of a local delegated or designated authority, please contact that local authority for minor and major variance procedures. For a list of local designated or delegated authorities, click here. To request a minor variance for projects under DWR jurisdiction, you must submit a complete variance application package to the Central Office (1617 MSC, Raleigh, NC 27699-1617). Minor variances are reviewed and processed by the Division. Click here for staff contacts. To request that your proposed major variance (for projects under DWR jurisdiction) be presented at the next Water Quality Committee (WQC) meeting, you must submit a complete variance application package to the Central Office (1617 MSC, Raleigh, NC 27699-1617) at least 90 days prior to the WQC meeting date. To view the WQC meeting dates, click here. Please note that we cannot guarantee the proposed major variance will be presented at the next WQC meeting. Use the following forms for requesting a variance.
You may choose to schedule a submittal meeting to submit your major variance request via the Standard Review Process directly to DWR's Buffer Coordinator. A submittal meeting also provides you an opportunity to:
• Discuss the general scope of your project;
• Give a history of your site;
• Talk about design considerations;
• Present new ideas, designs and technology;
• Identify rules and regulations that may create opportunities or lead to constraints;
• Ask preliminary questions of the reviewer;
• Provide feedback; and
• Understand the variance process.
Furthermore, a submittal meeting gives you the opportunity to develop a better rapport with DWR staff, thus improving overall communication, which typically results in shorter review times. Please note that acceptance of your variance request at the submittal meeting does not guarantee that you will be granted a variance.
If you are interested in scheduling a submittal meeting, please contact DWR's 401/Buffer Coordinator at least two weeks prior to your desired submittal date.