Protecting Local Wetlands and Stream Habitats
The Clean Water Act 404 Program
Under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, anyone who hopes to fill a wetland, channelize a stream, or otherwise fill a portion of a water with sediment, must obtain a “404 permit” from the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). The Corps must assure that each permit it issues complies with guidelines developed together by the Corps and the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). The guidelines specify that a discharge of fill material into a water may not be permitted if:
- There is a practical alternative
- The discharge would cause or contribute to violation of water quality standards
- The discharge jeopardizes the existence of a threatened or endangered species
- The discharge will cause or contribute to significant degradation of waters
- Appropriate steps are not taken to minimize adverse impacts.
These regulations and more information on the program can be found on the Corps website.
The requirements for mitigation are spelled out in the “Mitigation Rule,” part of the regulations governing the Corps of Engineers’ permitting program for wetland and stream fill projects: http://www.usace.army.mil/CECW/Pages/final_cmr.aspx
Citizen Action Needed to Help Protect Wetlands
Citizens can participate in the 404 program by commenting on permit applications that are available through the US Army Corps of Engineers, district offices and monitoring destruction and mitigation projects in your area. These permits must also receive a water quality certification (or “401 certification”) from Illinois EPA. Members of the public can also review and comment on these certifications.
Prairie Rivers Network assists local advocates in effectively participating in these programs. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (217) 344-2371 if you are concerned about wetland or stream channel destruction near you.
More information on how Protect Your Streams and Wetlands from Dredging and Filling.
Background information on wetlands.