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Wetland and Stream Permits/ Water Quality Certifications

All streams (i.e., ephemeral, intermittent, perennial, rivers) and wetlands, regardless of federal jurisdiction, are regulated by DOEE. Regulated activities that impact wetlands or streams will be permitted with either a federal permit issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) under Clean Water Act (CWA) § 404 and a water quality certification (WQC) issued by the Department, or a District wetland and stream permit (WSP), as applicable. A District wetland and stream permit is required for impacts to wetlands and streams that are not under federal jurisdiction and cumulatively total greater than fifty (50) square-feet in size for a single project. This threshold is consistent with the District’s erosion and sediment control permitting requirements.

Applicants should coordinate with Regulatory Review Division staff on projects that will have potential impacts to wetlands and/or streams. When a project proposes impacts to wetlands and/or streams, applicants should also work with the USACE Baltimore Regulatory District to determine if the wetlands and/or streams are federally jurisdictional. See more information on jurisdictional determinations see.

Based on the USACE jurisdictional determination, activities in wetlands and streams in the District may be authorized by DOEE through one of the following processes:

  • For federally jurisdictional wetlands, applicants must submit a certification request to DOEE for a CWA Section 401 Water Quality Certification request.
  • For non-federally jurisdictional wetlands, applicants must submit apply for a District Wetland and Stream Permit (WSP) from DOEE.

Regardless of the type of authorization, the required application information is the same.

Will My Project Require a Wetland and Stream Permit (WSP) and Water Quality Certification (WQC)?

There may be projects that include proposed impacts to federally and non-federally jurisdictional wetlands or streams. DOEE requires the same application process for WSPs and WQCs therefore, only one application is necessary. Authorizations for projects that include both federally jurisdictional and non-federally jurisdictional impacts will include both WSP and WQC authorization in the same letter.

Section 401 Water Quality Certifications (WQC)

Activities within federally jurisdictional streams and wetlands require Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404 permits issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Baltimore District. See more information on the USACE’s permitting requirements.

Section 404 of the federal CWA requires a permit for the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States. 33 U.S.C. § 1344. Before issuing a permit, the 404 applicant must obtain a certification from DOEE pursuant to CWA § 401 that the discharge will comply with the District water quality criteria.  33 U.S.C. § 1341. DOEE certifies permits issued by the USACE for discharges of dredged and fill material into District waters.

In accordance with CWA Section 401 Certification Rule, effective September 11, 2020, applicants must request a pre-filing meeting with DOEE 30 days prior to submitting a WQC application.

District Wetland and Stream Permits (WSP)

A District wetland and stream permit (WSP) is required for impacts to wetlands and streams that are not under the jurisdiction of the federal CWA and cumulatively total greater than fifty (50) square-feet in size for a single project. This threshold is consistent with the District’s erosion and sediment control permitting requirements.

How to Apply for a Wetland and Stream Permit (WSP) / Water Quality Certification (WQC)

To apply for a WSP/WQC, applications must be submitted to DOEE through the Surface and Groundwater System. Please see the Surface and Groundwater document for directions on how to enter an application into the system. Application fees can be paid in the Surface and Groundwater System. Guidance on application requirements and application fees is also available.

Wetlands of Special Concern

Section 2616 of the District's Wetland and Stream Regulations designated wetlands of special concern that have exceptional ecological value and safeguard the natural diversity of the District's remaining wetlands. Regulated activities within these wetlands will require higher mitigation ratios for those impacts that may be permitted. View a map of the Wetlands of Special Concern.

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