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Energy and Environment Cabinet

Division of Water

Division of Water
Who Needs Section 401 Water Quality Certification?

​Persons who wish to make an alteration to a stream, river, lake or wetland must first obtain a water quality certification. Physical alterations to properties of waters of the state requires a §401 Water Quality Certification (§401 certification).  Examples of stream alterations that may require a certification from the Kentucky Division of Water, Water Quality Certification Section include:

  • Dredge or place fill into waters of the state and/or wetlands
  • Dredging, excavation, channel widening, or straightening
  • Bank sloping; stabilization
  • Channel relocation
  • Water diversions
  • Divert, obstruct or change the natural flow or bed of any waters of the state (e.g. debris removal, bank stabilization or culverting)
  • Construct a barrier across a stream, channel, or watercourse that will create a reservoir: dams, weirs, dikes, levees or other similar structures
  • Construction within navigable waters
  • Flooding, excavating, draining and/or filling a wetland
  • Road and utility crossings
  • Structural fill

A federal permit may also be required from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) for projects that include the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S. including wetlands. This permit is called a §404 permit. When a §404 is required from the Corps, a §401 certification must also be obtained from the Kentucky Division of Water. A §401 certification affirms that the discharge would not violate Kentucky's water quality standards.

General permits provide a streamlined means for the Kentucky Division of Water to approve activities that are considered to result in minor impacts. The 401 Water Quality Certification Section has certified all of the nationwide permits used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Nationwide permits are certified as written, certified with conditions or denied (Link to Certification of General Permits).

For wetland-related impacts involving greater than one acre of wetland loss, the applicant should follow the Wetland Mitigation Guidelines (link) when applying for a Water Quality Certification (WQC). Wetland losses involving less than one acre may be regulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for making official jurisdictional wetland determinations.

For stream-related impacts, the applicant should submit detailed plan and profile drawings along with the application. Impacts in streams or lakes designated as Special Use Waters always require an individual WQC and a detailed sediment and erosion control plan.

For both wetland and stream disturbances, the applicant must complete and submit the Combined Application for Permit to Construct Across or Along a Stream and/or Water Quality Certification along with appropriate attachments.

Activities that occur in a regulated floodplain may also require a Stream Construction Permit from the Kentucky Division of Water. Visit the Floodplain Construction home page for more information on the Permit to Construct Along or Across a Stream.


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