Environmental Permits


Environmental Permits regulate activities on the Reservation to protect air and water quality, fish and wildlife habitat and the health and welfare of Tribal Citizens and Reservation residents. DEP administers and/or issues CWA 401 Water Quality Certifications and provides technical advice on other Tribal Environmental Permits:

  • CWA 401 Water Quality Certification: Water quality certifications are required for work in or over the Swinomish Regulated Surface Waters to ensure effects to the waters do not harm the environment or fish and wildlife and are required in conjunction with U.S. Army Corp of Engineers or other Federal permits. BEFORE submitting your application, you must submit a pre-filing meeting request at least 30 days prior. See details of the revised process below.

Notice of Revised Section 401 Water Quality Certification Request Submittal Process:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published its Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule in the Federal Register on July 13, 2020 (The 2020 Rule). It took effect on September 11, 2020.  The 2020 Rule was vacated on October 21, 2021 and the vacatur was stayed on April 6, 2022, so the 2020 Rule is currently in effect.

The rule requires that the project proponent follow these steps:

  1. Request a pre-filing meeting with Swinomish Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) at least 30 days before submitting a Section 401 water quality certification request.
  2. A minimum of 30 days after submitting the pre-filing request, project proponents may submit a Section 401 water quality certification request. The request must be submitted concurrently to DEP and the federal permitting agency (e.g. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers).
  3. Section 401 water quality certification requests must satisfy the requirements of 40 CFR 121.5(b) of the new rule (see below). Please note that a Joint Aquatic Resource Permit Application (JARPA) alone does not satisfy the requirements of the new EPA rule.

Summary of 40 CFR 121.5(b) requirements for a Section 401 WQ Certification Request for individual license or permits:

  1. Identify the project proponent(s) and a point of contact; Identify the proposed project;
  2. Identify the applicable federal license or permit;
  3. Identify the location and nature of any potential discharge that may result from the proposed project and the location of receiving waters;
  4. Include a description of any methods and means proposed to monitor the discharge and the equipment or measures planned to treat, control, or manage the discharge;
  5. Include a list of all other federal, interstate, state, territorial, or local agency authorizations required for the proposed project – including all approvals or denials already received;
  6. Include documentation of a pre-filing meeting request submittal to the certifying authority (DEP) at least 30 days prior to submitting the certification request;
  7. Contain the following statement: “The project proponent hereby certifies that all information contained herein is true, accurate, and complete, to the best of my knowledge and belief.” AND The following statement: “The project proponent hereby requests that the certifying authority review and take action on this CWA 401 certification request within the applicable reasonable period of time.”

All of the above are included in our WQ certification application.

For more information: EPA’s 401 rule: https://www.epa.gov/cwa-401/final-rule-clean-water-act-section-401-certification-rule


Other environmental permits that DEP may provide techinical advise to Planning & Permitting:

  • Burn Permit Application: Burn Permits protect air quality and reduce wildfire danger. They are required for any open fires four feet or more in diameter and are further restricted during burn bans.

    Burn Bans may be declared during periods of impaired air quality, such as inversions, or during conditions of high fire danger.  During a regular burn ban the only open fires allowed are for cooking or recreation within a fire ring less than three feet in diameter.  During a declaration of severe conditions for air quality or fire danger all open fires, including cooking and recreational fires, and wood stove use except in homes where they are the primary heating source, may be restricted.

  • Land Clearing Permit ApplicationLand Clearing permits are required for clearing vegetation or timber harvest activities covering an acre or more.

  • On-Site Septic Permit ApplicationOn-site Septic permits provide review of the location, soils and design of these systems and are require prior to installation of new septic systems.  The reviews are done in conjunction with the Tribal Health Inspector.

  • Shorelines & Sensitive Areas Permit ApplicationShoreline and Sensitive Areas (SSA) permits regulate activities within 200 ft of the shoreline as well as within designated sensitive areas and their buffers. Such sensitive areas include wetlands, streams, eagle nests and certain areas critical for fish or wildlife habitat. Activities requiring permits include tree removal, building or modifying structures and most development or surface modification.

  • TEPA Environmental ChecklistTribal Environmental Protection Act (TEPA) Checklist.  This form, which must be completed for any project with potential impacts to the environment, provides information for environmental review and allows determination if impacts are significant and require additional environmental impact studies.

Environmental Permits



Phone (360) 542.7630


Dept. of Environmental Protection
11430 Moorage Way
La Conner, WA 98257


Mon-Wed | 8-6 PM
Thurs | 8-5:30 PM