The Environmental Protection Agency announced a final rule to restore the fundamental authority granted by Congress to states, territories, and Tribes to protect water resources that are essential to healthy people and thriving communities. The agency’s final Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification Improvement Rule will support clear, efficient, and focused water quality reviews of infrastructure and development projects that are key to economic growth.

The rule enhances certification review and provides regulatory certainty to advance federally permitted projects. For example, the rule establishes a 6-month default timeframe (when the federal agency and certifying authority fail to reach an agreement) and a 1-year maximum timeframe for certification review (the statutory maximum). The rule emphasizes that states, territories, and Tribes may only consider the adverse water quality-impacts from the activity. To limit delays, the rule also provides a clear approach to defining the required contents in a request for certification.

More information, including a pre-publication version of the Federal Register notice, fact sheets, and information on upcoming trainings on the final rule, can be found at the EPA’s CWA section 401 website.