The Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and quality standards for surface waters. The basis of the CWA was enacted in 1948 and was called the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, but the Act was significantly reorganized and expanded in 1972. “Clean Water Act” became the Act’s common name with amendments in 1972.

For regulatory purposes under the Clean Water Act, the term wetlands means “those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs and similar areas.”

Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes a program to regulate the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including wetlands. Section 404 requires a permit before dredged or fill material may be discharged into waters of the United States, unless the activity is exempt from Section 404 regulation.

Activities that require impacts to less than one half acre of a single wetland and less than 300 linear feet of a stream channel can typically be permitted by the Nationwide Permit program through the United States Corps of Engineers (USACE). Nationwide Permits typically take 45 days for USACE processing and are relatively inexpensive. Impacts greater than one half acre of wetland or 300 linear feet of stream require an individual permit and take 6-12 months for processing. Our personnel has over 20 years experience conducting wetland delineations and Section 404 permitting.