Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) requires that any applicant for a Federal permit or license to conduct an activity, including, but not limited to, the construction or operation of facilities, which may result in a discharge to a navigable water shall provide certification from the State that the proposed discharge complies with the State’s water quality standards and requirements. Some common examples of federal actions which trigger a Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) include: (1) U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (ACOE) Section 404 permits; (2) ACOE Section 10 Rivers and Harbors Act; (3) Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) licenses for hydroelectric projects; and (4) U.S. Coast Guard bridge permits.
Maryland has regulations governing the processing and issuance of Section 401 WQCs (COMAR 26.08.02.10). Key elements of the Maryland WQC process addressed in the regulations include contents of an application; discharges to outstanding natural resource waters; public notice and public hearing requirements; and the final decision from the Maryland Department of the Environment. In addition, it is important to note that the Department has adopted several General Water Quality Certifications (GWQCs) (COMAR 26.08.02.11).
For questions regarding Water Quality Certifications in Maryland, please contact the the Wetlands and Waterways Program Administrator at 410-537-3745.
The 401 WQC request to MDE must be mailed to:
Please include your project tracking number and MDE Agency Interest (AI) number, if known, on your request for a WQC.
Please see the key elements (PDF) required to be submitted to MDE as part of your 401 WQC request.
A WQC Public Notice Billing Form (PDF) is also required.
Please be aware that the Joint Federal/State Application for the Alteration of any Floodplain, Waterway, Tidal or Nontidal Wetland in Maryland is not a request for WQC. A separate request for a WQC must be received by MDE per the instructions above.
Under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA), you are required to request a Water Quality Certification (WQC) from the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) before the ACOE may issue an individual permit (i.e., Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, Sections 9 and 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act and Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act) for any activity that may result in a discharge to waters of the United States. If MDE fails to act (certify, waive or deny) on your request for WQC within a reasonable time after the request is received by MDE (i.e., within 60 days of receipt, unless the district engineer determines that a shorter or longer period, not to exceed one year, is reasonable for the State to act), the requirement for obtaining the WQC will be determined to have been waived and the ACOE may continue processing your permit application. The ACOE will notify you when your project qualifies as an individual permit and you need a WQC from Maryland.
The MDSPGP-5 authorizes work in waters of the United States within the state of Maryland for activities that would cause no more than minimal adverse environmental effects, individually and cumulatively, subject to the permit’s specific terms and conditions. This programmatic general permit has been developed in cooperation between the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), which has regulatory authority over waters in the state of Maryland, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. MDSPGP-5 became effective Oct. 1, 2016, and will expire Sept. 30, 2021.
The Maryland State Programmatic General Permit-5 is available from the Army Corps of Engineers website: MDSPGP-5 (PDF, 89 pages)
Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Water Quality Certification (WQC)/Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) for Maryland State Programmatic General Permit-5 (MDSPGP-5) -
MDE's letter to the Army Corps of Engineers dated September 13, 2016, responding to the ACOE's request for federal consistency decisions on MDSPGP-5 in line with the State's Clean Water Act, Section 401 Water Quality Certification; and Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), Section 307.
Nationwide Permits (NWPs) are general permits issued on a nationwide basis to authorize minor activities with minimal evaluation time. NWPs have been established to reduce the regulatory reporting burden for specific activities that have no more than minimal impacts to the aquatic environment.
Please NOTE, most NWPs have been suspended in Maryland since there are State Programmatic General Permits already in place (MDSPGP-5).
To view the NWPs applicable and suspended in Maryland, please visit one of these links:
2017 Nationwide Permits - Water Quality Certification
Maryland 401 Water Quality Certification and Coastal Zone Management Program Consistency concurrence letter dated 6 March 2017
20-WQC-0003 Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works, Lake Ogleton Entrance Channel, Annapolis, Lake Ogleton, Anne Arundel County (PDF, 22 pages)
20-WQC-0004 Bay Ridge Civic Association, Herndon Avenue NE to Upshur Avenue, Annapolis, Lake Ogleton, Anne Arundel County (PDF)
20-WQC-0007 Cecil County Department of Parks and Recreation, River Bend Parkway, Elkton, Elk River Area, Cecil County (PDF, 34 pages)
20-WQC-0008 Queen Anne’s County Department of Parks and Recreation, 201 Front Street, Centreville, Corsica River, Queen Anne’s County (PDF, 25 pages)
19-WQC-0001 Pearce Creek Dredge Material Containment Facility - Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Dredging (PDF)
19-WQC-0002 James and Janet Clauson and Diane Lawrence, Crownsville, Severn River, Anne Arundel County
19-WQC-0003 Jack Meyerhoff, Easton, Miles River, Talbot County (PDF, 20 pages)
19-WQC-0004 City of Salisbury, Salisbury, Wicomico River, Wicomico County (PDF, 12 pages)
19-WQC-0005 Ralph and Mary Kraft, Princess Anne, Wicomico River, Somerset County - Aquaculture project (PDF)
19-WQC-0006 Christopher and Terrin Mitchell, Hebron, Wicomico River, Somerset County - Aquaculture project (PDF)
19-WQC-0007 Myson's Legacy, Saint Michaels, Miles River, Talbot County (PDF, 30 pages)
19-WQC-0008 John Robertson, Saint Michaels, Broad Creek, Talbot County (PDF, 15 pages)
19-WQC-0011 Loch Haven Civic Association, Inc., Edgewater, South River, Anne Arundel County (PDF, 23 pages)
19-WQC-0013 Randolph Johnston, Chester, Crab Alley Bay, Queen Anne's County (PDF, 18 pages)
19-WQC-0014 Point Pleasant Farm, Inc., Bozman, Broad Creek, Talbot County (PDF, 20 pages)
1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21230