Wetlands Permitting (Section 401)

Laws of the United States and the State of Iowa have assigned the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) with specific and different regulatory roles designed to protect the waters within and on the State's boundaries.

A Section 401 Water Quality Certificate is Iowa Department of Natural Resource's certification that a project will not violate state water quality standards and is required before the Corps of Engineers can issue a Section 404 permit.

Construction, excavation or filling in streams, lakes, wetlands, or on the flood plains may require permits from both the Corps and Iowa DNR. A Joint Application Form (Protecting Iowa Waters) shall be submitted to both agencies to begin the permit process for any of the following activities:

  • cutting the bank of a river, stream, or lake;
  • any excavation or dredging in a wetland, lake, stream or river;
  • channel changes or relocations (including stream straightening);
  • construction of any permanent dock, pier, wharf, seawall, boat ramp, beach, intake or outfall structure on a stream, river or lake;
  • placement of any fill, riprap, or similar material in a stream, river, lake, or wetland;
  • construction of a dam across any waterway;
  • placement of fill, construction of levees, roadways and bridges; and similar activities on a floodplain; or
  • construction of buildings on a flood plain.
  • Any construction on, above, or under all fee title lands and waters, dedicated lands and waters under the jurisdiction of the Natural Resource Commission (Commission) and managed by the Commission for public access to a meandered sovereign lake or meandered sovereign river; meandered sovereign lakes; meandered sovereign rivers; and sovereign islands (except those portions of the Iowa River and Mississippi River where title has been conveyed to Charter Cities). Sovereign Lands Construction Permit

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources also requires permits for the construction and operation of water and wastewater treatment facilities, water withdrawal, water storage, and solid waste disposal and should be contacted for information about these permits.

US Army Corps of Engineers:
Joint Application Form
Joint Application Form

Chapter 61: Water Quality Standards

US Army Corps of Engineers: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Rock Island District - Public Notices
Omaha District/DNR - Public Notices


The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (Iowa DNR) proposes to issue Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Kansas City District Section 14 Emergency Streambank Protection Program Projects.  Section 401 Water Quality Certification is the statement that a project will not cause a violation of Iowa's Water Quality Standards.

The Kansas City District Corps of Engineers (Corps) proposes to implement emergency streambank protection projects under the Section 14 Program throughout its area of responsibility in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.  The Kansas City District Civil Works boundary includes the following counties in Iowa:  Adair, Adams, Appanoose, Cass, Clarke, Davis, Decatur, Lucas, Madison, Monroe, Montgomery, Page, Ringgold, Taylor, Union, and Wayne. Projects would use conventional hard protection or soil bioengineering techniques. The most appropriate and effective techniques depend on a variety of factors determined by the hydrologic and hydraulic conditions at the point of interest. Projects may incorporate one or a combination of techniques. Different techniques may be applicable depending on the bank zone that is impacted and/or requiring treatment. Categories of conventional hard protection techniques include those that 1) prevent erosion by armoring the eroding bank, 2) prevent erosion by deflecting the current away from the bank, 3) methods that reduce the erosive capability within the channel, and 4) geotechnical methods of slope stabilization. Specific techniques that may be used in a Section 14 project would include stone-fill revetments (e.g. longitudinal peak stone toe protection or stone toe), revetment, stone root, gabion baskets, sheet pile, soil-covered riprap, cellular blocks, bendway weirs, baffle/tiebacks, spur dikes, diversion dikes, vanes, fence revetments, grade control structures, grading, geogrids, geotextiles, retaining walls, or drains.

Soil bioengineering bank protection techniques would also be used in Section 14 projects. Soil bioengineering techniques that may be implemented include branch packing, brush layering, brush mattress, coconut fiber roll, dormant post-plantings, joint planting, live cribwall, live fascines, live post, live siltation, live stakes, root wad, tree or log revetment, vegetated geogrids, and vegetated mechanically stabilized earth. It is common practice that multiple soil bioengineering techniques are incorporated into a single project. The specific techniques selected depend on site-specific conditions and the nature of the streambank erosion problem.

The Corps’ draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment, Finding of No Significant Impact and Programmatic 404(b)(1) evaluation provides the environmental assessment necessary for NEPA and Section 404 compliance on Section 14 projects that meet the following project criteria:

  • affect 1,560 linear feet or less of streambank; and/or
  • would place 25 cubic yards or less of fill per running foot along the protected streambank

  • The DNR Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Kansas City District Section 14 Emergency Streambank Protection Program Projects is available by clicking on the following: Section 401 Water Quality Certification. Copies of this information may be requested by calling Chris Schwake at (515) 725-8399. A copy of the Corps’ Public Notice for the Section 14 Emergency Streambank Protection Program Projects can be viewed at:  http://www.nwk.usace.army.mil/Portals/29/docs/civilworks/pn/Section14PN.pdf?ver=2017-08-25-114448-640

    Anyone wishing to comment on the intent to proceed with issuance of the Section 401 Certification must do so in writing by COB on December 8, 2017.  All relevant comments will be considered. Written comments should be submitted to Iowa DNR, Chris Schwake, Wallace State Office Building, 502 E. 9th Street, Des Moines, IA 50319-0034 or electronically at Christine.schwake@dnr.iowa.gov .

    Contact Information
    Christine Schwake
    Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources
    Wallace State Office Building
    502 E. 9th Street
    Des Moines, IA 50319-0034
    Phone: 515-725-8399
    Fax: 515-725-8202
    US Department of the Army, Rock Island
    Rock Island District Corps of Engineers
    Clock Tower Building - PO Box 2004
    Rock Island, IL 61204-2004
    Phone: 309-794-5376
    Fax: 309-794-5191

    US Department of the Army, Omaha
    Omaha District Corps of Engineers
    8901 South 154th Street
    Omaha, NE 68138-3611
    Phone: 402-896-0896


    Outstanding Iowa Waters
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