Permits for work in wetlands and streams

Wetlands and streams are protected under Sections 404 & 401 of the Clean Water Act, Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, and RCW 90.48. Apply for a permit under these laws when work is in or over a wetland or stream. Use this webpage during scoping to help develop the project schedule or during permitting when you are preparing a permit application.

For general information on how to identify and apply for permits, see the Environmental permits & approvals webpage. For work that has the potential to impact fish and fish habitat, use the Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) permits webpage.

Read chapter 431: Wetlands and other waters of the Environmental Manual and review the Wetlands webpage to learn more about assessing wetlands and streams, identifying impacts, and mitigating for impacts.

An overview of discharge permit processes (pdf 126 kb).

Use the determining jurisdiction of wetlands and other waters webpage to determine which agencies have jurisdiction over the waterbodies in or around the work area.

Use the common types of work and their impacts (pdf 185 kb) for help determining what type of impact your proposed work will have on wetlands and streams.

Bundling multiple fish passage projects for permitting

Consider bundling (submitting multiple projects in one application) fish passage projects if they meet all the following criteria to help expedite permit decisions:

  • On the same creek, are tributaries on the same creek, or are nearby creeks feeding the same river.
  • In the same WRIA and/or the same watershed.
  • Have similar site or construction conditions.
  • Meet stream simulation/bridge criteria design. 
  • Designed and all ready for permitting application at the same time. 
  • Are not politically sensitive, very complex or includes an unusual or overly complex site or construction conditions.

Most work that requires a Section 404 and/or Section 10 permit will be covered, or verified, by the Corps under the Nationwide Permit (NWP) program. Use a NWP when work results in minimal adverse effects. Follow the steps on this webpage to determine if your work can be verified under one of the Nationwide Permits or if an individual permit is required.

Work in wetlands and streams under the jurisdiction of the Corps that results in more than minimal adverse effects cannot be verified under the NWPs. Find instructions for getting an Individual Permit from the Corps and an Individual Water Quality Certification on this webpage.

Use the information on this page to apply for an Administrative Order under the state Water Pollution Control Act (Chapter 90.48 RCW) from Ecology when work is in non-federally regulated wetlands.

Drawings are one of the most important parts of a permit application. They show what the work is, where the work is, and what the impacts from the work are. Use the information on this webpage to prepare drawings to go with your application for Clean Water Act Section 404 and Section 401 and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act permits.

Some work in wetlands and streams under the jurisdiction of the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) may be exempt from getting a permit. Use the information on this page to determine if the work is exempt from getting a permit.

Once all work is complete, close out all the permits that authorize discharge into a wetland or stream. The closeout requirements can be found in the conditions of the discharge permits. Use this page to help understand the closeout conditions for Clean Water Act Section 404 and 401 and Rivers and Harbors Act Section 10 permits.