Final Section 401 Water Quality Certification for Vessel Discharges

Contact: Sarah LeSage 517-243-4735

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) issued a final Section 401 Water Quality Certification to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) for discharges from vessels covered by two USEPA proposed National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Permits: (1) Vessel General Permit for Discharges Incidental to the Normal Operation of Vessels (VGP), and (2) Small Vessel General Permit for Discharges Incidental to the Normal Operation of Vessels Less Than 79 Feet (sVGP).

The final Certification contains conditions to ensure discharges from covered vessels, including but not limited to ballast water, comply with Michigan Water Quality Standards and other appropriate requirements of state law.

The final Certification is in response to the USEPA's December 28, 2011 request that the MDEQ make a written determination regarding certification under Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act for vessel discharges in Michigan waters that would be authorized by the USEPA's VGP and sVGP. The USEPA request for certification established a deadline of October 1, 2012, for the MDEQ to issue or deny a Section 401 Water Quality Certification for discharges from vessels covered by the USEPA's VGP and sVGP.

Final Section 401 Water Quality Certification for Discharges From Vessels Covered by the USEPA's Vessel General Permit for Discharges Incidental to the Normal Operation of Vessels and the USEPA's Small Vessel General Permit for Discharges Incidental to the Normal Operation of Vessels Less Than 79 Feet.

Public comments on the draft Certification were received from May 7 to June 4, 2012.  A written response was completed in December, 2012.