The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection today issued draft state Section 401 water quality certifications for the newly issued Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide Permits (NWPs). The certifications provide specific terms and conditions for obtaining state water quality certification which is required for an activity approved though a Section 404 Nationwide Permit issued by the Army Corps of Engineers pursuant to its authority under the federal Clean Water Act.
NWPs are permits which address certain general activities which have minimal impacts upon the environment and are not required to go through the individual permitting process through the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and which can therefore be obtained in shorter periods of time depending upon the terms of the NWP. The Corps just issued its new NWPs in February 2012.
Without the general certifications offered by the state, though, each party wishing to maintain coverage under a NWP issued by the Corps would be required to obtain individual certifications by the state ? a long and potentially time consuming process which would nullify the purpose of the NWP program. The state certifications are therefore essential to the operation of the NWPs in the state.
The draft water quality certifications are now subject to a 30-day public comment period which will extend through May 12, 2012 after which the state will be free to issue the state-wide certifications in final form.