Instream 401 Certification and Short Term Activity Authorization

Short Term Activity Authorization

Any activity which causes a disturbance to the water or the stream bed to include entry of machinery, debris removal from water or wetland, bridge construction/demolition and other activities conducted in any water that might cause a violation of the Arkansas Water Quality Standards must be authorized by the ADEQ director through a Short Term Activity Authorization (STAA). Designing a project to avoid impacts on a waterbody is encouraged. In instances where impacts are unavoidable, an STAA is required. STAAs allow for an individual or entity to perform in-stream work that may cause a water quality violation in waters of the state. This authorization does not grant an applicant permission to supersede any state or federal permitting requirements. STAA authorization must be obtained prior to beginning in-stream work. The length of each STAA’s validity period is based on the work that is being performed but can be no longer than six months. If the covered activity is not completed in the prescribed period, a renewal is requested. If a construction site will disturb in excess of one acre, an NPDES Stormwater Permit must be issued by ADEQ prior to start of construction. An STAA covers instream activity only and does not allow turbidity exceedance due to stormwater runoff from construction sites.

Search the database of applicants for a STAA or a 401 Water Quality Certification.

What Activities Require a STAA?

These activities include but are not limited to:

  • Gravel removal
  • Bridge or crossing repair/maintenance
  • Bank stabilization
  • Debris removal
  • Culvert replacement
  • Flood control projects
  • Pipeline placement
  • Utility

The STAA can also cover other activities that are essential to the protection or promotion of the public interest and that result in no permanent or long-term impairment of beneficial uses of the water:

  • Wastewater treatment facility maintenance
  • Fish eradication projects
  • Mosquito abatement projects
  • Algae and weed control projects
  • Dredge and fill projects
  • Construction activities
  • Debris removal
  • Activities that maintain or enhance beneficial uses

If you are required to secure an STAA, you may also be required to obtain a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) 404 Permit or a Bridge Permit . You may need an STAA to remove debris from wetlands. You may need permission from the city or county if your activity is within an area covered by an active General Stormwater NPDES - Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit.

Emergency Repairs

An STAA is not required before conducting temporary emergency repairs typically needed within 72 hours following a disaster event to restore vital functions such as access to areas by emergency vehicles. Notification of Emergency Action must be made as soon as practical after making temporary repairs. The notice should be made within seven days and include what additional work is needed for completion of the repairs. Notice of emergency repairs or request to conduct work in a dry waterway or for driveway repairs is not required, but protective measures must be taken to ensure there is not an impact when water does flow. All waterways shown on a United States Geological Survey (USGS) topographical map as solid or dashed blue lines require USACE review, but emergency action may be taken without prior approval followed by notice and request to complete those repairs.

Projects requiring emergency repair work for multiple sites must submit a Multiple Project Information Sheet (MPIS).

  • Fill out and submit the STAA application form PRIOR to the initiation of any non-emergency in-stream activity.
  • Include any supporting documents with the STAA form submittal. This should include contact information, maps, photos, engineering plans, etc.
  • A fee of $200 per crossing is required for STAA activities.
  • Contact Lazendra Hairston, 501-682-0946, for general information about STAAs and how to obtain one.
  • Water Quality - Instream Permits and Authorizations Fact Sheet

Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certifications

Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 requires state water quality certifications prior to the issuance of federal permits and licenses to ensure that proposed projects will not violate state water quality standards. The decision to issue a Section 401 water quality certification rests with the ADEQ director and is based on compliance with APC&EC Regulation 2, Establishing Water Quality Standards for Surface Waters of the State of Arkansas.

The majority of CWA Section 401 water quality certification requests are associated with permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) pursuant to CWA Section 404. Individual water quality certifications are required for projects that have the potential to impact Extraordinary Resource Waters, Ecologically Sensitive Waterbodies, or Natural and Scenic Waterways of the state.

What is involved in the review of Section 401 certifications?

Filing an application with USACE starts both the 404 permit and the 401 Certification processes.

For projects that fall under a general nationwide permit and are not on Extraordinary Resources Waters, a 401 Water Quality Certification is issued along with the 404 Permit. ADEQ has determined that these projects have minimum long term impact on waters of the state.

If the proposed project does not meet the qualifications for a general nationwide permit, a joint public notice is issued by USACE and ADEQ after receipt of a USACE completed application. The purpose of the public notice is to inform the public and other government agencies of the proposed activity. All interested parties are allowed to issue comments on the project for a period of 30 days. If there are no comments or concerns that need to be addressed at the close of the 30-day comment period, a final 401 certification will be provided.

Unites States Army Corp of Engineers 404 Permit

USACE is responsible for the issuance of 404 Permits. Section 404 of the Clean Water Act established this permitting program to control the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S. This also includes utility crossings. This permit does not absolve the permittee of responsibility towards other regulations. The federal 404 permit states that the permittee must use best management practices to avoid water quality violations. ADEQ must also issue a 401 Water Quality Certification for all nationwide permits issued by USACE.

The general conditions for issuance of a Section 404 Permit (regardless of type) include:

  • Prior Water Quality Certification. A 401 water quality certification from ADEQ must be obtained.
  • Proper Maintenance. Any structure or fill authorized shall be of correct material, properly maintained, including maintenance to ensure public safety.
  • Erosion and Siltation Controls. Appropriate erosion and siltation controls must be used and maintained in effective operating condition during construction, and all exposed soil and other fills must be permanently stabilized at the earliest practicable date.

Examples of actions that may require 404 permits include construction, demolition and any dredge or fill in any part of surface water tributaries, including small streams, lakes, ponds, construction and mining pits and wetlands. Unless it is an emergency action, i.e., immediate threat to life or property, a permit may be required. If a permit is required, it must be obtained prior to executing any physical disturbance action.

Nationwide general permits are issued to the public at large to authorize specific activities that have minimal environmental impacts, such as bank stabilization activities or construction of farm buildings. A general permit can be issued on a state, regional, or nationwide basis. Activities authorized by a general permit require less review than an individual permit would require. Summaries of the nationwide permits are available.

If the conditions cannot be met, a regional or individual permit will be required.

USACE Arkansas Districts

Obtaining permits is the responsibility of the applicant. The state of Arkansas is divided between three different Corps of Engineers districts:

  • Little Rock District is responsible for the southern third of Missouri and most of Arkansas.
  • Vicksburg District is responsible for most of southern Arkansas.
  • Memphis District is responsible for a portion of eastern Arkansas.

To determine what district you are in, visit the USACE website and click on Arkansas Map under Regulatory Boundaries. Then contact the appropriate district via permit manager by state to apply for a permit.