401 & Buffer Permitting Compliance Assistance Program



The Non-Point Source Compliance Assistance Program is part of the 401 & Buffer Permitting Branch of the Water Permitting Section.  The Program supports the Division of Water Resource's mission to protect and enhance North Carolina's surface waters by providing technical assistance on environmental compliance and enforcement issues across the state.  The Program performs a variety of duties including:

  • Providing technical support to DWR regional offices, local governments, federal and state government agencies, the general public, and other stakeholders
  • Helping to lead development of DWR's non-point source compliance programs
  • Providing leadership on issues of statewide policy and consistency
  • Coordinating DWR compliance activities with other state and local government agencies
  • Coordinating compliance activities for streams, wetlands, riparian buffers, 401 water quality certifications and isolated wetlands/water permits
  • Processing of enforcement cases, assessment of civil penalties, and serving as a clearinghouse for regional compliance casework

 

Civil Penalty Assessment

Civil penalties are fines assessed against a responsible party for violation(s) of environmental regulations.  North Carolina General Statute 143-214.5(c) requires that specific assessment factors be considered to determine the penalty amount.  If you have received a civil penalty assessment from the NC Division of Water Resources, within thirty (30) calendar days of receipt of this notice, you must do one of the following three options:

  1. Submit payment of the penalty, OR
  2. File a request for remission of civil penalties, OR
  3. File a written petition with the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Failure to exercise one of the above three options within thirty (30) calendar days of your receipt of these documents will result in the matter being referred to the Attorney General's Office with a request to initiate a civil action to collect the penalty.

View the NPS Compliance Program's Compliance Pathway to follow a typical case from Inspection/NOV to Enforcement.

Civil Penalty Assessment Option 1:  Submit Payment of the Penalty

Payment should be made to the order of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).  You do not need to include any forms with your payment; however, please write the Case # (XX-0000-0000) on your check or money order. Payment should be sent within 30 calendar days of receipt of the notice to: 

Karen Higgins
NC DEQ - DWR - 401 & Buffer Permitting Branch
1617 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC  27699-1617 

Please note:  The violations addressed by this assessment and any impacts to waters must be abated.  You are encouraged to contact your Regional Office if you need assistance in achieving compliance at the site. 

Civil Penalty Assessment Option 2:  File a Request for Remission of Civil Penalties

A request for remission or mitigation is limited to consideration of the reasonableness of the amount of the penalty and is not the proper procedure for contesting the accuracy of any of the statements contained in the assessment letter.  Because a remission request forecloses the option of an administrative hearing, such a request will not be processed without a waiver of your right to an administrative hearing and a stipulation that there are no factual or legal issues in dispute.

You must execute and submit the "Waiver of Right to an Administrative Hearing and Stipulation of Facts" 

You must also submit the "Justification for Remission Request"  which should describe why you believe:

a.  one or more of the civil penalty assessment factors in G.S. 143B-282.1(b) were wrongfully applied to the detriment of the petitioner;
b.  the violator prompty abated continuing environmental damage resulting from the violation;
c.  the violation was inadvertent or a result of an accident;
d.  the violator had been assessed civil penalties for any previous violations;
e.  payment of the civil penalty will prevent payment for the remaining necessary remedial actions.

You must file your request for remission of civil penalties within thirty (30) calendar days of receipt of the notice.  Submit this information to:

Karen Higgins
NC DEQ - DWR - 401 & Buffer Permitting Branch
1617 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC  27699-1617

Please note:  The violations addressed by this assessment and any impacts to waters must be abated.  You are encouraged to contact your Regional Office if you need assistance in achieving compliance at the site. 

Civil Penalty Assessment Option 3:  File a Written Petition with the Office of Administrative Hearings

The civil penalty assessment can be contested as provided in Articles 3 and 4 of General Statute 150B by filing a written petition for an administrative hearing to the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) within thirty (30) days. 

A petition form may be obtained from the OAH here or by calling the OAH Clerk's Office at (919) 431-3000 for information.  A petition is considered filed when the original and one (1) copy along with any applicable OAH filing fee is received in the OAH during normal office hours (Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, excluding official state holidays).

The petition may be faxed to the OAH at (919) 431-3100, provided the original and one copy of the petition along with any applicable OAH filing fee is received by the OAH within five (5) business days following the faxed transmission.

Mailing address for the OAH (if sending via US Postal Service):

Office of Administrative Hearings
6714 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC  27699-6714

Mailing address for the OAH (if sending via delivery service, ex- UPS, FedEx, etc.):

Office of Administrative Hearings
1711 New Hope Church Road
Raleigh, NC  27609-6285

One (1) copy of the petition must also be served to DEQ:

General Counsel
Department of Environmental Quality
1601 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC  27699-1601 

 

How to Access a Case File

Requests for public records, including copies of case files, should be made to the Division of Water Resources. Visit NCDEQ's Environmental Assistance and Customer Service website for general information about public record access procedures.  

 

Regulatory Codes and Statutes

 

More Compliance Topics

Training Opportunities

Guide to Surface Freshwater Classifications in North Carolina (printable brochure)

Oil Spills 

Marinas

Guidance Tools for Marinas & Boatyards
NCG190000 NPDES General Stormwater Permit & BMP Information for Marinas

The NCG190000 permit is required for the following types of facilities:

  1. SIC 4493: Marinas who provide vehicle (also known as vessel) maintenance.  Vehicle maintenance activities may include:  pressure-washing, commercial hand-washing, painting, paint removal, sand blasting, boat building and repairs.
  2. SIC 373: Ship/Boat Building and Repairing facilities.
Clean Marina Program

The N.C. Clean Marina program is a partnership between N.C. Boating Industry Services, N.C. Marine Trade Association, N.C. Division of Coastal Management, Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program, N.C. Sea Grant, U.S. Power Squadron, U.S. Coast Guard Auxilliary and N.C. Big Sweep.  For more information about the Clean Marina Program, please click here.

 


Staff Contact Information

Mailing Address:    1617 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1617
Physical Location:  512 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh, NC 27604, Archdale Building - 9th floor
 

Click here for Regional Office Contact Information

Name, Title

Phone               

Primary Responsibiliites

Karen Higgins
Supervisor

(919) 807-6360 Manage 401 & Buffer Permitting Branch

Jennifer Burdette
401/Buffer Coordinator

(919) 807-6364 Review of 401 applications, review Major Variances and present to the EMC, staff liaison with general public, GIS coordinator.

Mac Haupt
Stream/Wetland Mitigation Coordinator

(919) 807-6476 Coordinate Stream and Wetland Mitigation Program

Niki Maher
Compliance Assistance Specialist

(919) 807-6367 Coordinate Stream ID (SWITC) Courses; provide technical support to DWR regional offices, local governments, federal and state government agencies, the general public, and other stakeholders
Chonticha McDaniel
401 Stormwater Engineer
(919) 807-6379 Technical review of stormwater management plans submitted with 401, Buffer and Isolated Wetland Permit applications; coordination with the Stormwater Permitting Unit on policy issues;  technical review of applications for 401s asscoaited with hydropower projects.

Katie Merritt
Nutrient Offset & Buffer Banking Coordinator

(919) 807-6371

 

Coordinate Nutrient Offset and Riparian Buffer Mitigation Banking Program

Sheri Montalvo
Administrative Assistant

(919) 807-6303 Database entry and maintenance of all DWR projects, process all application fees, serve as administrative liaison for general public and internal DENR staff contacts.

Shelton Sullivan
Compliance Assistance Specialist

(919) 807-6361 Provide technical support to DWR regional offices, local governments, federal and state government agencies, the general public, and other stakeholders.