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.
In accordance with 40 C.F.R. § 121.4, at least 30 days prior to submitting a WQC request, you must request a Pre-Filing Meeting with MDE. MDE is not obligated to grant the request. You may not file a request for a WQC from MDE until you have filed a Pre-Filing Meeting Request with MDE and 30 (thirty) days have passed, unless Maryland expressly determines that a Pre-Filing Meeting is not necessary for your project. You may request a Pre-Filing Meeting by completing a Pre-Filing meeting request form available from MDE’s website (https://mde.maryland.gov/programs/Water/WetlandsandWaterways/Pages/PreApplicationIntroduction.aspx).
In addition to the requirements of 40 C.F.R. § 121.5, Maryland has regulations governing the processing and issuance of WQCs (COMAR 26.08.02.10). Key elements of the Maryland WQC process addressed in the regulations include: the required contents of an application; discharges to outstanding natural resource waters; and public notice and public hearing requirements. 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 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 (v. 9/11/20).
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.
For additional information, please see the Maryland Section 401 Presentation - WQC (PowerPoint, 21 pages).
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
2021 Nationwide Permits, Water Quality Certification
On September 15, 2020, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) published in the Federal Register its proposal to reissue the 52 existing Nationwide General Permits (NWP) with modification and issue five new Nationwide Permits. On January 13, 2021, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) published a final rule in the Federal Register (86 FR 2744) announcing the reissuance of twelve (12) existing Nationwide Permits (NWPs) and the issuance of four (4) new NWPs (2021 NWPs). These 16 NWPs went into effect on March 15, 2021 and will expire on March 14, 2026. The 12 replaced 2017 NWPs expired on March 14, 2021, the day before the reissued NWPs took effect. More information on the 2021 NWPs and the January 13, 2021 Federal Register (86 FR 2744) notice is available on the Corps Headquarters website at: https://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Regulatory-Program-andPermits/Nationwide-Permits/
On December 15, 2020, Maryland issued a conditional water quality certification for the 2021 Nationwide Permits (PDF). On March 8, 2021, Maryland was notified that the Corps Baltimore and Philadelphia Districts were declining Maryland’s issued water quality certification. Accordingly, the Corps will instead require individual water quality certifications (or waiver) and individual CZMA consistency concurrence (or presumption of concurrence) for activities authorized by these NWPs to which WQC apply (including NWPs that do not require a Pre-Construction Notification [PCN] to the Corps). In accordance with the Corps’ regulations at 33 CFR 330.4(c), the Corps will not issue authorization under the 2021 NWPs (86 FR 2744) for any activity that results in a discharge until an applicant obtains an individual 401 WQC or waiver thereof.
Corps Baltimore District: The Baltimore District has posted the final regional conditions and suspensions for these 16 final 2021 NWPs (86 FR 2744) on the Regulatory webpage at: https://www.nab.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Permit-Types-and-Process/
NWP 401 WQC Decline Letter to Maryland MDE - March 8, 2021 (Letter from ACOE Baltimore district, PDF)
Corps Philadelphia District: The Philadelphia District has posted the final regional conditions and suspensions for these 16 final 2021 NWPs (86 FR 2744) on the Regulatory webpage at: https://www.nap.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Permits/NWP.aspx
Maryland WQC Decline 401 Letter for 2021 NWPs - March 8, 2021 (Letter from ACOE Philadelphia district, PDF)
20-WQC-0041 County Commissioners of Worcester County Maryland, Terminus of Selsey Road, Ocean City, Isle of Wight Bay in Worcester County, Effective February 4, 2021 (PDF)
20-WQC-0055 Isabel Baynes, Baltimore County, Effective February 22, 2021 (PDF)
20-WQC-1332 Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, Flower Hill I Maintenance Dredging Project located at the Intersection of U.S. Government Drive and Snouffer School Road, Gaithersburg, Montgomery County, Effective January 7, 2021 (PDF)
21-WQC-0003 Delmarva Power and Light Company, electric line project, location from the Cambridge Substation in Cambridge to the East New Market Substation, East New Market, Maryland, and above Indian Creek, Effective February 5, 2021 (PDF)
21-WQC-0005 MDOT Maryland Port Administration, Cox Creek Dredged Material Containment Facility, 1000 Kembo Road, Baltimore MD 21226, Patapsco River (Use I and II), Anne Arundel County, Effective February 25, 2021 (PDF)
21-WQC-0045 Harry and Robyn Proctor, Goose Creek Road, Shady Side, Chesapeake Bay in Anne Arundel County, Effective February 22, 2021
21-WQC-0314 Anne Arundel County Dept of Public Works, Franklin Manor Channel, Chesapeake Bay entrance channel to Deep Creek, Churchton, Anne Arundel County, Effective April 27, 2021 (PDF)
19-WQC-0026 Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) Key Bridge between Hawkins Point and Sollers Point, Patapsco River Area - 02130900 in Baltimore, Effective April 1, 2020 (PDF)
19-WQC-0027 A&S Smith Development, Inc., Breezy Point Road, Chesapeake Beach, Plum Point Creek in Calvert, Effective April 24, 2020
19-WQC-0028 Baltimore City Department of Transportation, Inner Harbor roughly Pier 5 to the West and S Bond St to the East, Baltimore City, Effective April 22, 2020
19-WQC-0029 Tradepoint Atlantic (TPA), 1600 Sparrows Point Blvd, Sparrows Point, MD 21219, Patapsco River Area - 02130900 in Baltimore, Effective May 11, 2020
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-0006 Fishing Creek Farm Homeowners Association, Annapolis, South River, Anne Arundel County (PDF, 31 pages)
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)
20-WQC-0012 Somerset County Solid Waste and Drainage Department, Champ Road/Oriole Road, Princess Anne, Somerset County (PDF, 14 pages)
20-WQC-0017 Somerset County Solid Waste and Drainage Department, Nevette Muir Road and Landonville Road, Westover, Fairmount, Teague Creek, Somerset County (PDF, 15 pages)
20-WQC-0019 Somerset County Solid Waste and Drainage Department, Wedda Scott Road and Crisfield Highway, Westover, Somerset County (PDF, 8 pages)
20-WQC-0021 Longview Civic Association Inc., Arnold, Magothy River, Anne Arundel County (PDF, 17 pages)
20-WQC-0023 Frederick County Division of Public Works, Coblentz Road, Middletown Park pond, Middletown, Frederick County (PDF)
20-WQC-0025 Allegany County Department of Public Works, Oldtown Road, North Branch Potomac River, Oldtown, Allegany County (PDF)
20-WQC-0028, McHugh (PDF)
20-WQC-0029 Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load Regional General Permit ("Bay TMDL RGP") Reissuance, NAB-2019-00527 - July 10, 2020 (Effective period: July 2020 - June 2025)
20-WQC-0030 Prince George's County Department of the Environment, Hyattsville, Prince George's County, unnamed tributary to Wells Run and a tributary to Northeast Branch Anacostia River (PDF)
20-WQC-0031, Shipwright (PDF)
20-WQC-0032, Franklin Manor (PDF)
20-WQC-0033 Howard County Department of Public Works Division of Stormwater Management, Ellicott City Flood Mitigation for several project sites along Frederick Road/Main Street (MD144), with the westernmost site located at approximately 8777 Frederick Road and the easternmost site located along the Patapsco River from US 29 east to the Patapsco River, Ellicott City, Howard County. Effective March 26, 2021 (PDF)
20-WQC-0034 Herrington Partnership LLP, Deale Rd (RTE 256) Deale, Tracys Creek in Anne Arundel County, Effective January 29, 2020 (PDF)
20-WQC-0038, Zdravkovich (PDF)
20-WQC-0040 Cape St. Claire Improvement Association, River Bay Road, Annapolis, Magothy River, Anne Arundel County, Effective July 10, 2020 (PDF)
20-WQC-0042 Somerset County Solid Waste and Drainage Department, Tuff Street, Tyler Creek and Merlin Gut, Tylerton, Somerset County, Effective August 20, 2020 (PDF)
20-WQC-0043 Town of Queenstown, 1st and 2nd Ave, Queenstown, Queenstown Creek in Queen Anne’s County, Effective December 3, 2020 (PDF)
20-WQC-0044 U.S. Dept. of the Navy - Naval Support Activity Annapolis - Environmental Division, Naval Academy, Annapolis, Greenbury Point, Severn River, Anne Arundel County (PDF, 23 pages)
20-WQC-0045 Anne Arundel County Dept of Public Works, Triton Beach Road, Edgewater, Anne Arundel County, Effective August 12, 2020 (PDF)
20-WQC-0048, Franklin Point Park (PDF)
20-WQC-0049, Breezy Point Park (PDF)
20-WQC-0050 Conditional signed WQC for Nationwide Permits (NWPs), Maryland, December 15, 2020 (PDF, 17 pages)
20-WQC-0051 Water Quality Certification document, MDSPGP-6, 20-WQC-0051 - Effective March 24, 2021
20-WQC-0052, CSCIA-site 2 (PDF)
20-WQC-0053 Somerset County Planning, End of Crowell Rd, Soundside Estates, Deal Island, Tangier Sound, Somerset County, Effective September 29, 2020 (PDF)
20-WQC-0054, CBF (PDF)
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