Instream 401 Certification and Short Term Activity Authorization

Short Term Activity Authorization

Any activity which causes a disturbance to the water or the stream bed to include entry of machinery, debris removal from water or wetland, bridge construction/demolition and other activities conducted in any water that might cause a violation of the Arkansas Water Quality Standards must be authorized by the DEQ director through a Short Term Activity Authorization (STAA). Designing a project to avoid impacts on a waterbody is encouraged. In instances where impacts are unavoidable, an STAA is required. STAAs allow for an individual or entity to perform in-stream work that may cause a water quality violation in waters of the state. This authorization does not grant an applicant permission to supersede any state or federal permitting requirements. STAA authorization must be obtained prior to beginning in-stream work. The length of each STAA’s validity period is based on the work that is being performed but can be no longer than six months. If the covered activity is not completed in the prescribed period, a renewal is requested. If a construction site will disturb in excess of one acre, an NPDES Stormwater Permit must be issued by DEQ prior to start of construction. An STAA covers instream activity only and does not allow turbidity exceedance due to stormwater runoff from construction sites.

Search the database of applicants for a STAA or a 401 Water Quality Certification.

What Activities Require a STAA?

These activities include but are not limited to:

  • Gravel removal
  • Bridge or crossing repair/maintenance
  • Bank stabilization
  • Debris removal
  • Culvert replacement
  • Flood control projects
  • Pipeline placement
  • Utility

The STAA can also cover other activities that are essential to the protection or promotion of the public interest and that result in no permanent or long-term impairment of beneficial uses of the water:

  • Wastewater treatment facility maintenance
  • Fish eradication projects
  • Mosquito abatement projects
  • Algae and weed control projects
  • Dredge and fill projects
  • Construction activities
  • Debris removal
  • Activities that maintain or enhance beneficial uses

If you are required to secure an STAA, you may also be required to obtain a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) 404 Permit or a Bridge Permit . You may need an STAA to remove debris from wetlands. You may need permission from the city or county if your activity is within an area covered by an active General Stormwater NPDES - Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit.

Emergency Repairs

An STAA is not required before conducting temporary emergency repairs typically needed within 72 hours following a disaster event to restore vital functions such as access to areas by emergency vehicles. Notification of Emergency Action must be made as soon as practical after making temporary repairs. The notice should be made within seven days and include what additional work is needed for completion of the repairs. Notice of emergency repairs or request to conduct work in a dry waterway or for driveway repairs is not required, but protective measures must be taken to ensure there is not an impact when water does flow. All waterways shown on a United States Geological Survey (USGS) topographical map as solid or dashed blue lines require USACE review, but emergency action may be taken without prior approval followed by notice and request to complete those repairs.

Projects requiring emergency repair work for multiple sites must submit a Multiple Project Information Sheet (MPIS).

How Do I Apply for an STAA?

The most efficient way to apply is electronically through DEQ’s ePortal site. We hope this option will make the application process easier for you. Click on the ePortal dropdown box below for complete instructions. We no longer accept applications via email.

NOTE: STAA fees are as follows:

$150 per crossing for state agencies, state boards, state commissions, municipalities, cities, and counties (Act 585)

$200 per crossing for all other applicants 

How to get started:

  1. You will need to register online.
    1. Once you have completed the registration process, a validation email will be sent to the email address you listed during registration.
    2. Once you receive the email, you will need to click on the validation link found within that email.
    3. Failure to complete the validation process will render your registration incomplete. If this occurs, you will not be able to submit any requests until this process has been completed.

After completing the registration process, you will be able to begin to submit your STAA request.

How to submit a request:

  1. You will sign in using the email that you listed during the registration process.
  2. Select Form Finder.
    1. Type in STAA.
    2. A Short Term Activity Authorization link will appear.
    3. Click the link.
  3. You will then click the Submit Online Form button found on the left hand side of the page.
  4. If you are submitting a new request, select New from the drop down menu and click Next Step.
  5. Enter the name of the applying organization. (Often third parties submit requests on behalf of their clients. If you are a consulting firm applying for an STAA on behalf of another entity or individual, please list that name here.)
  6. Enter the physical mailing address.
    1. This is the address for the point of contact for this project. This address needs to have a mail receptacle that can receive mail from the U.S. Postal Service. This can be a physical home or business address or a post office box.
    2. Please be sure that include a valid telephone number and email address for DEQ staff to use if they have any questions or problems with your application.
    3. Please note that the information you provided during the registration process will automatically populate this part of the form. If you are doing a request that needs to be mailed to another address, please be sure the correct information is entered here prior to submitting the request.
    4. Once this is complete, click the Next Section button.
  7. Enter complete site information.
    1. Here you will enter the information just as you have on the STAA form.
      1. Thoroughly describe the work to be done. If your description is not complete, DEQ staff will need to contact you to get more information, causing a delay in processing your request.
      2. We are aware that it is sometimes hard to estimate the amount of debris, but please give your best estimate.
    2. Attach site maps and supporting documentation.
      1. Submit maps that reflect where the water impacts will be.
      2. When possible, layer the construction project layout on a Google Earth image of the work area. This will allow us to see exactly how the project is designed, and we can better determine the water impacts that may result from it.
    3. Once you have completed uploading all of your maps and supporting information, click the Next Section button.
  8. Enter the affected waterbodies.
    1. This is where you will enter the names of the streams and lakes and designations for any unnamed tributaries in which the instream activity will occur. If more than one waterbody will be impacted during the course of your project, click the add tab at the top to list additional streams.
    2. Include the GPS coordinates for your worksite. If you don’t have the coordinates, use Google Earth to find them.
    3. Once you have completed entering this information, you will click the Next Section button.
  9. Carefully review all the information you have entered. When you are assured that everything is accurate and you are ready to proceed, click the Next Step button.
  10. You will be asked to confirm that the information you entered is accurate and true. Then click Submit Form to be taken to the payment section.
  11. You will not be able to pay your application fees through the ePortal site. You will have the options to Pay by Mail or Later. Choosing to pay later will trigger the invoice process. Once your invoice has been created, the invoice number will be sent to the email address on your application. Upon the receipt of this email, you will need to wait 24 hours for our systems to update before submitting your payment through our online payment portal. There you will be able to pay using a Visa, MasterCard, or Discover credit card or an electronic check.
  12. Once you have completed your payment, please forward a copy of your receipt to so that your payment can be documented as received.

We believe that the use of ePortal will allow us to be more efficient in processing STAA requests. If you have any questions or concerns, email or call Melanie Treat at 501-682-0040 or Mary Barnett at 501-682-0666.

ePortal Instructions For Submitting an STAA

If you prefer to submit a paper application by mail, click on the instructions below.

  • Fill out and submit the STAA application form PRIOR to the initiation of any non-emergency in-stream activity.
  • Include any supporting documents with the STAA form submittal. This should include contact information, maps, photos, engineering plans, etc.
  • Contact Melanie Treat at 501-682-0040 or Mary Barnett at 501-682-0666 for general information about STAAs and how to obtain one.
  • Water Quality - Instream Permits and Authorizations Fact Sheet

Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certifications

Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 requires state water quality certifications prior to the issuance of federal permits and licenses to ensure that proposed projects will not violate state water quality standards. The decision to issue a Section 401 water quality certification rests with the DEQ director and is based on compliance with APC&EC Regulation 2, Establishing Water Quality Standards for Surface Waters of the State of Arkansas.

The majority of CWA Section 401 water quality certification requests are associated with permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) pursuant to CWA Section 404. Individual water quality certifications are required for projects that have the potential to impact Extraordinary Resource Waters, Ecologically Sensitive Waterbodies, or Natural and Scenic Waterways of the state.

What is Involved in the Review of Section 401 Certifications?

Filing an application with USACE starts both the 404 permit and the 401 Certification processes.

For projects that fall under a general nationwide permit and are not on Extraordinary Resources Waters, a 401 Water Quality Certification is issued along with the 404 Permit. DEQ has determined that these projects have minimum long term impact on waters of the state.

If the proposed project does not meet the qualifications for a general nationwide permit, a joint public notice is issued by USACE and DEQ after receipt of a USACE completed application. The purpose of the public notice is to inform the public and other government agencies of the proposed activity. All interested parties are allowed to issue comments on the project for a period of 30 days. If there are no comments or concerns that need to be addressed at the close of the 30-day comment period, a final 401 certification will be provided.

Unites States Army Corp of Engineers 404 Permit

USACE is responsible for the issuance of 404 Permits. Section 404 of the Clean Water Act established this permitting program to control the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S. This also includes utility crossings. This permit does not absolve the permittee of responsibility towards other regulations. The federal 404 permit states that the permittee must use best management practices to avoid water quality violations. DEQ must also issue a 401 Water Quality Certification for all nationwide permits issued by USACE.

The general conditions for issuance of a Section 404 Permit (regardless of type) include:

  • Prior Water Quality Certification. A 401 water quality certification from DEQ must be obtained.
  • Proper Maintenance. Any structure or fill authorized shall be of correct material, properly maintained, including maintenance to ensure public safety.
  • Erosion and Siltation Controls. Appropriate erosion and siltation controls must be used and maintained in effective operating condition during construction, and all exposed soil and other fills must be permanently stabilized at the earliest practicable date.

Examples of actions that may require 404 permits include construction, demolition and any dredge or fill in any part of surface water tributaries, including small streams, lakes, ponds, construction and mining pits and wetlands. Unless it is an emergency action, i.e., immediate threat to life or property, a permit may be required. If a permit is required, it must be obtained prior to executing any physical disturbance action.

Nationwide general permits are issued to the public at large to authorize specific activities that have minimal environmental impacts, such as bank stabilization activities or construction of farm buildings. A general permit can be issued on a state, regional, or nationwide basis. Activities authorized by a general permit require less review than an individual permit would require. Summaries of the nationwide permits are available.

If the conditions cannot be met, a regional or individual permit will be required.

USACE Arkansas Districts

Obtaining permits is the responsibility of the applicant. The state of Arkansas is divided between three different Corps of Engineers districts:

  • Little Rock District is responsible for the southern third of Missouri and most of Arkansas.
  • Vicksburg District is responsible for most of southern Arkansas.
  • Memphis District is responsible for a portion of eastern Arkansas.

To determine what district you are in, visit the USACE website and click on Arkansas Map under Regulatory Boundaries. Then contact the appropriate district via permit manager by state to apply for a permit.