Overview - CRMC Assent
- DEM Requirements - Federal Permits
Department of Environmental Management Requirements
A DEM Water Quality Certification is generally required for all
coastal wetlands and fish passage projects if they result in the
discharging of dredge or fill material to waters of the state. As
seagrass restoration projects generally do not involve dredge or
fill activities, they are usually excluded.
The Water Quality Certification program is responsible for ensuring
compliance with the State Water Quality Regulations for projects
that impact inland and coastal waters by fulfilling the requirements
of Section 401 of the Clean Water Act which requires the state to
certify projects such as dredging, filling, water withdrawals, and
site disturbances. While reviewing projects, the program often coordinates
with federal and state agencies and other DEM programs. See the
DEM web site for regulations and more information on the water quality certification process.
Certain activities proposed in or near state waters require prior
approval from the DEM Water Quality Certification (WQC) Program.
This approval, or "Water Quality Certification," certifies that
a proposed activity complies with the state's Water Quality Regulations.
The following describes the situations that trigger a WQC review,
instances where a separate application must be filed, and who will
receive the certification, if one is issued. The DEM WQC Program
coordinates permit reviews within the Agency with the Division of
Fish and Wildlife and the Office of Waste Management.
Federal 401 WQC | State
Review Process | Division of Agriculture
| USACE Programmatic General Permit (PGP)
1. Federal 401 Water Quality Certification
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act requires all applicants who propose
an activity that would result in the discharge of dredge or fill
material to waters of the state to obtain 401 Water Quality Certification
approval. The Section 404 Federal permit review, administered by
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), may be issued as an Individual
Permit (for more major types of proposed wetland alteration) or
as a category 1 or 2 permit (see the USACE Programmatic General Permit
review process below).
For projects that require an Individual 404 permit and are
also under the jurisdiction of the DEM Freshwater Wetlands Program,
the Water Quality Certification review is an internal coordination
effort which occurs through the Freshwater Wetlands review. In this
situation, applicants apply to the DEM Freshwater Wetlands Program
and the USACE. During the water quality review, the project will be
discussed at the monthly joint review screening meetings with the
appropriate state and federal resource agencies. For such projects,
the 401 Water Quality Certification determination is issued to the
USACE. If the project is also determined to be a significant wetland
alteration, the Freshwater Wetlands Program may also request a Water
Quality Certificate in accordance with Rule 9.05d of the Freshwater
Wetlands Rules and Regulations.
2. The State Water Quality Certification Review
Applicants for the types of projects listed below that fall under
the jurisdiction of the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management
Council, including both coastal and freshwater wetlands in the vicinity
of the coast, are required to apply for and receive Water Quality
Certification directly from the Water Quality Certification Program
prior to commencement of the project. This means that a project
may require both an USACE permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water
Act and Water Quality Certification. Please refer to Rule 13 of
the State Water Quality Regulations.
- Dredged and dredged material disposal1
- Filling of waters of the state
- Site disturbances that have the potential to contribute increased
pollutants to a water of the state, specifically:
- residential development of six (6) or more units
- any commercial, industrial, state, municipal land development
- any project which disturbs five (5) or more acres of soil2
- Marinas: construction of new facilities or expansion of existing
- Flow alterations to a surface water body3
- Harbor Management Plans for those elements that are associated
with water quality
- A point source discharge of pollutants2
1Standards applied under these activities shall
conform to federal EPA applicable water quality rules, regulations,
and guidelines, in accordance with the Marine Infrastructure Maintenance
Act of 1996.
2The permit required under the Rhode Island Pollutant
Discharge Elimination System Regulations may act as the Water Quality
Certification for the discharge.
3Flow alterations for agricultural irrigation
and herbicide application will be reviewed through coordination
with DEM Division of Agriculture.
3. Division of Agriculture
Aquatic Herbicide Use Application
For restoration projects that involve the application of a herbicide,
permission from the DEM Division of Agriculture is required. The
Division of Agriculture and the Division of Fish and Wildlife jointly
review applications to apply pesticides to control aquatic weeds
to water bodies and for herbicide applications to salt marshes for
Phragmites control. The Division of Agriculture issues a
permit directly to the applicant.
4. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Programmatic
General Permit (PGP)
For Category 1 and 2 proposed activities that also fall under the
jurisdiction of the DEM Freshwater Wetlands Program, the Water Quality
Certification Program will review the project for compliance with
the State Water Quality Regulations through an internal coordination
review. The applicant applies to the DEM Freshwater Wetlands Program
only. Projects applied for as Category 2 of the PGP process will
be reviewed by the WQC Program at the monthly screening meetings.
If the WQC Program determines that the project is eligible for Category
2, the WQC may approve the project at the screening meeting. For
the USACE list of Category 1 and 2 activities, please see the USACE web site or see the PGP Appendix A (PDF format).
Water Quality Certification applications are available at the DEM,
Office of Water Resources and at the DEM Office of Technical and
Customer Assistance, 235 Promenade Street, Providence, Rhode Island,
02908-5767. If your project requires a Water Quality Certification
review, or if you have any other questions relating to the WQC Program,
contact Terry Walsh of the Water Quality Certification Program at
401-222-6820, extension 7243.
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