Short Term Activity Authorization STAA and Section 401 Water Quality Certification
Short Term Activity Authorization
Anyone planning to conduct any activity in waters of the State, which cause a violation of the Arkansas water quality standards, must obtain authorization from DEQ prior to entering waters of the State. This authorization is subject to the provisions that such activity is essential to the protection or promotion of the public interest and that no permanent or long-term impairment of beneficial uses is likely to result from such activity. Nothing in this authorization is intended to supersede existing state or federal permitting processes or requirements. The STAA only covers the activity requiring entry into and disturbance of waters of the state.
Such STAAs shall not be granted for activities which result in the adverse impact on any federally threatened or endangered species of on critical habitat of such species.
STAAs do not take the place of a construction stormwater permits and best management practices (BMPs) which are required for development of construction sites greater than one (1) acre. If the project is associated with a construction site that will disturb more than one (1) acre, the applicant must obtain coverage under an NPDES Construction Stormwater Permit prior to start of construction at the site.
Search the database of applicants for an existing STAA or a Section 401 Water Quality Certification.
What Activities Require a STAA?
Activities eligible for authorization include, but are not limited to:
- Wastewater treatment facility maintenance
- Fish eradication projects
- Mosquito abatement projects
- Algae and weed control projects
- Dredge and Fill Projects
- Gravel Removal
- Construction Activities
- Bridge or crossing repair/maintenance
- Culvert replacement
- Pipeline repair/placement
- Utility repair/replacement
- Activities which result in overall enhancement or maintenance of beneficial uses
- Bank stabilization
- Debris removal
- Flood control projects
- Debris removal
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. Other local permits may be applicable such as building, grading, or floodplain permits.
If a temporary Emergency Activity (an activity needed to prevent an immediate risk to health, life, property, or environment) is needed, the submittal of an Emergency STAA is not required before conducting emergency activity. Notification of the Emergency Activity should be made within seventy-two (72) hours after making temporary repairs and shall include what additional work is needed for completion of the repairs.
How Do I Apply for an STAA?
The applicant shall apply electronically through DEQ’s ePortal website, unless the applicant receives an electronic submittal waiver from DEQ. Click on the ePortal dropdown box below for complete instructions.
How to get started:
- You will need to register online.
- Once the registration process is completed, a verification email with a confirmation code will be sent to the email address listed during registration.
- Once the email is received, the confirmation code will need to be entered on the registration screen.
- Failure to complete the validation process will render the account registration incomplete. If this occurs, this account will not be able to submit any requests until this process has been completed.
- The Responsible Official will need to apply for an electronic signature (https://eportal.adeq.state.ar.us/webfiles/ADEQ/
After completing the registration process, the application process can begin.
How to submit a STAA Request:
- Log-in using the email that was used during the registration process.
- Click the "Form Finder" button in the left menu or the "Finder" button in
the top menu bar.
- Type STAA in the box above the words "Recommended Forms".
- Recommended forms will appear in a list.
- Click on the Short Term Activity Authorization (STAA) form.
- Click the "Begin Form Entry" button at the bottom of the webpage and follow the directions on the application.
Pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 8-4-234(b)(2) and APC&EC Rule 9, the STAA fee shall not exceed two hundred dollars ($200) for each stream crossing, in-stream activity, or other eligible activity.
Pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 8-4-234(b)(5) and APC&EC Rule 9, DEQ shall waive twenty-five percent (25%) of the STAA fee for state agency, board, commission or municipality, city, or county. Therefore, the STAA fee shall not exceed one hundred fifty dollars ($150) for each stream crossing, in-stream activity, or other eligible activity.
Waivers from electronic reporting may be granted based on the following conditions:
- If the operational headquarters is physically located in a geographic area (i.e. Zip Code of census tract) that is identified as under-served for broadcast internet access in the most recent from the Federal Communications Commission;
- If available computer access or computer capability is limited; or
- If the applicant is a religious community that choose not to use certain modern technologies pursuant to 40 C.F.R. §127.15(c)(1).
Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certifications
Clean Water Act (C.W.A.) 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 DEQ and is based on compliance with APC&EC Rule 2, Rule Establishing Water Quality Standards for Surface Waters of the State of Arkansas.
In 2020, EPA promulgated the 2020 401 Final Rule. In late 2021 a district court remanded with vacatur the 2020 Final Rule. However, on April 6, 2022 this vacatur was stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court pending appeals in lower district court. The results of these proceedings are that the 2020 401 Final Rule is in place. The link below summarizes the 2020 401 Final Rule, which currently guides the Section 401 process.
For more information on C.W.A. Section 401 Rule (40 C.F.R. § 121): https://www.epa.gov/cwa-401/final-rule-clean-water-act-section-401-certification-rule
Filing an application with USACE starts both the 404 permit and the Section 401 Water Quality Certification processes. With the 2020 401 Final Rule in place, an applicant seeking Individual Section 401 water quality certification (WQC) and/or a 404 permit must submit a Pre-File Meeting Request at least 30-days prior to applying for a 401 WQC. The Pre-File Meeting Request is submitted to DEQ concurrently with contacting the USACE for 404 permitting.
The USACE determines if a project falls under a particular nationwide permit and will send a letter authorizing your project under that nationwide permit. Projects that fall under a general nationwide permit, and are not on Extraordinary Resource Waters, Ecologically Sensitive Waterbodies, or Natural and Scenic Waterwayw are pre-certified for Section 401 Water Quality Certification and subject to general and specific conditions set by DEQ. This general Section 401 Water Quality Certification will be included in your issued 404 documents. You need not file anything with DEQ regarding the general Section 401 Water Quality Certification. You may still need a STAA if working within a waterbody.
If the Corps' verification letter indicates that you must obtain an Individual Section 401 Water Quality Certification, you will need to file for an Individual Section 401 Water Quality Certification directly to DEQ. These are projects the Corp has determined do not meet the qualifications for a general nationwide permit. In addition, projects that are located on an Extraordinary Resource Waters, Ecologically Sensitive Waterbody, or Natural and Scenic Waterways as determined by Rule 2 also require an Individual Section 401 Water Quality Certification in Arkansas.
What is required in a request for an individual Section 401 Water Quality Certification?
- First, request a Pre-File Meeting Request with DEQ in the ePortal system at least 30-days before submitting an Individual Section 401 Water Quality Certification request. DEQ may waive the meeting if it is determined that a meeting is not needed. In this case, DEQ will notify the applicant to move forward with an Individual Section 401 Water Quality Certification request.
- A certification request is a written, signed, and dated communication from a project proponent to a certifying authority (DEQ).
- A certification request must include the components listed in final rule 40 C.F.R. § 121.5 (b).
DEQ will act on the request if all of these requirements are met. If these requirements are not fulfilled, the request is not considered complete and will not be processed.
Applications for an Individual Section 401 Water Quality Certification with DEQ are accepted via eportal.
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.
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 404 permit.