Water Quality Certification
A. Legal Authority
- Clean Water Act, as amended, 33 U.S.C. 1251, et seq.
- Chapter 342D, HRS, Water Pollution
- Title 11, Chapter 54, HAR, Department of Health, Water Quality Standards
A Water Quality Certification (WQC) Permit is used to certify that any action involving a federal license or permit does not, or will not, violate applicable state Water Quality Standards.
C. Applicability to Aquaculture
A WQC is required by §401 of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq., for any applicant for a federal license or permit (in this case Department of the Army permit) to conduct any activity, including, but not limited to, the construction or operation of aquaculture facilities which may result in any discharge into navigable waters of the U.S. The DOH Director will issue the certification if there is reasonable assurance that applicable water quality standards will not be violated and the best practicable methods of control will be applied to a discharge from the operation.
A WQC will be needed to restore a coastal Hawaiian fishpond. However, offshore aquaculture projects do not require the certification.
D. Administering Agency
The Department of Health, Clean Water Branch is responsible for administering the Water Quality Certification, which is issued by the Department Director.
Clean Water Branch
Environmental Management Division
Department of Health
State of Hawaii
919 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 301
Honolulu, Hawaii 96814-4920
Web site: http://hawaii.gov/health/environmental/water/cleanwater/forms/indivindex.html (see web site for Neighbor Island Branch Office information: Kauai; Maui; Hilo, Hawaii; and Kona, Hawaii)
E. Information Requirements
A WQC application includes the following information:
- Owner information;
- General contractor information;
- Emergency contact information;
- Project site information;
- Associated permits or licenses;
- Receiving state water information;
- Project description;
- Description of existing environment and a description of the facility or activity, the discharge from construction and operation, the potential environmental effects from construction activities;
- Project schedule;
- Site-specific best management practices (BMP’s) plan;
- Mitigation compensation plan; and
- Supporting documents.
F. Public Participation
The DOH Director may provide public notice of a WQC application and an opportunity for public comment or hearing, upon request or at the Director’s own determination. A public hearing may be required depending on a case-by-case basis.
G. Process Time
The Director is required to act on a request for certification within one year. If the Director fails or refuses to act on a request for certification within one year after receipt of a complete application, then the certification requirements shall be waived with respect to the federal applications in question.
H. Sequence of Filing
The WQC permit is required prior to the issuance of the subject federal approval or permit. Therefore, an applicant should apply for the certification at the earliest feasible time and in conjunction with the federal action being requested.
The filing fee for a Section 401 WQC permit is $1000, except for an activity which meets the DOH conditional blanket certification criteria issued to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Honolulu District (https://health.hawaii.gov/cwb/hawaii-administrative-rules-har/har-11-55/). Public Notice and Hearing fees will be paid by the applicant and will vary with the project.
Pacific Region Aquaculture and Coastal Resource Hub
2525 Correa Road, HIG 238
Honolulu, HI 96822
Phone: (808) 956-7031
Each pattern represents a Center of Excellence. Learn more about the cultural connections and meanings behind them.