Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit (ARAP)

Who Needs An ARAP/Section 401 Certification?

Persons who wish to make an alteration to a stream, river, lake or wetland must first obtain a water quality permit. Physical alterations to properties of waters of the state require an Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit (ARAP) or a §401 Water Quality Certification (§401 certification). Examples of stream alterations that require a permit from the Tennessee Division of Water Resources (division) include:

  • Dredging, excavation, channel widening, or straightening
  • Bank sloping; stabilization
  • Channel relocation
  • Water diversions or withdrawals
  • Dams, weirs, dikes, levees or other similar structures
  • Flooding, excavating, draining and/or filling a wetland
  • Road and utility crossings
  • Structural fill

A federal permit may also be required from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) for projects that include the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S. including wetlands. This permit is called a §404 permit. When a §404 is required from the Corps, a §401 certification must first be obtained from the division. A §401 certification affirms that the discharge would not violate Tennessee's water quality standards. The application process for a §401 certification is the same as the ARAP process.

General Permits are developed and maintained by the division to provide a streamlined, expedited means of authorizing projects that singularly or cumulatively propose minor impacts to water resources. 

Implementation of some types of conservation practices on agricultural land requires coverage under TDEC's Construction General Stormwater Permit (CGP) and/or ARAPs. In an effort to streamline this permitting process for agencies involved, a fact sheet was cooperatively developed to help farmers, landowners, and other program participants to determine when a permit is needed or not.

What Information Must I Provide?

An applicant who seeks coverage under a general permit must submit an application for Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit (form CN-1091) together with the basic requested information to the environmental field office for that region. The regional office information is found on the back of the application form.

An applicant for an individual permit must submit an application for Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit (form CN-1091) together with the detailed requested information and the proper fee to the division at its central office in Nashville. The form requires information concerning the applicant, location, schedule of activities and a detailed description of the proposed activity. This includes the general intent or goal of the project, a topographic location map and detailed plans or blueprints of the proposed project, and an analysis of practicable alternatives. Further, information regarding social and economic considerations, and the environmental consequences of each alternative may be needed.

Form Description Form Number
Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit Form (Revised 06/2020) CN-1091
Notice of Termination for General Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit Coverage CN-1450

Due to a recent change in the Federal 401 Certification Rules, a pre-filing meeting request is now required at least 30 days before submittal of a 401 Certification request for a federal permitting agency (such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) to consider it to be valid (see 40CFR §121.4).

You may request a pre-filing meeting and obtain confirmation by CLICKING HERE.

*Please note that this online meeting request form (above) does not serve as an application for any state or federal permit. Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit form (CN-1091) can be found in the table above. 

For Federal Agency Employees: The 401 Water Quality Certification Justifications & Citations related to the procedural requirements of §121.7(d).

How Will My Application Be Processed?

An application will first be reviewed for completeness. When the proposed activity qualifies for coverage under a general permit, the work can be authorized by letter (Notice of Coverage) upon review and acceptance of the plans. This normally takes three to four weeks.

When the proposed activity does not qualify for coverage under a general permit, a regular or individual permit is required. If the application is not complete, the applicant is notified of any deficiencies and asked to respond. After submittal of all required items, a public notice is issued. The division must advertise the public notice on the TDEC web site and mail a copy to persons on our mailing list. The applicant must also place a division approved legal notice in a local newspaper and post a placard near the project site.

During the public comment period, a public hearing may be requested. A hearing must be held if anyone requests one. A public hearing notice must be advertised in a local paper at least 30 days in advance. After public review and final supervisory review, a permit is issued or denied. The division must take action to issue or deny a permit within 90 days after receipt of a completed application or the fee can be refunded. In most cases, individual permits are processed in less than 90 days. Permits are valid for the time required to complete the activity with a maximum duration of up to five (5) years.

What Fees Are Required?

Effective July 1, 2014, application fees for the processing of applications for §401 Water Quality Certifications and Aquatic Resource Alteration Permits and Notices of Intent for Coverage under an individual or general permit shall be as follows:

INDIVIDUAL ARAP Permit Application Fee Schedule Fee
Projects with five or more points of impact, and compensatory mitigation required $5,000
Projects with less than five points of impact, with or without compensatory mitigation required $2,500
Projects with any number of points of impact, and compensatory mitigation not required $2,500
Watershed District Projects (T.C.A. §69-7-101 et seq.) $1,000
Personal residence or family farm $50
GENERAL ARAP Permit Application Fee Schedule Fee
General Permits for projects requiring notification to, or Notice of Coverage authorization from the Division (per language in a specific general permit)
Note: Projects seeking Notice of Coverage under a General Permit for multiple impact points may be assessed one $500 General Permit fee if:
  • Multiple impact points are of the same general permit type, such that each impact would be subject to identical general permit conditions,
  • The cumulative degradation or other aspect of the activities does not require coverage under an individual permit.
Personal residence or family farm $50
General Permit for projects not requiring notification to, or Notice of Coverage authorization from the Division (per language in a specific general permit) $0
Individual and General ARAP Permit Maintenance Fee Schedule Fee
Water Withdrawal ARAP permits that require monthly operational reports (provided an annual maintenance fee has not been paid under Rule 0400-45-01-.32) $1,000
Individual 401 Certification or ARAP permits that require post-construction monitoring of permitted activities or compensatory mitigation (assessed in total at time of permit issuance based on permitted term of monitoring) $500

General Permit for projects requiring notification to, or Notice of Coverage authorization from the Division

(per language in a specific general permit)

will be assessed an annual maintenance fee after one full year of coverage unless the applicant requests a Notice of Termination (Notice of Termination form CN-1450). Permit coverage begins with the effective date of the Notice of Coverage.

Gravel Dredging - commercial $300
Gravel Dredging - personal residence or family farm $0
General Permit for projects not requiring notification to, or Notice of Coverage authorization from the Division (per language in a specific General permit) $0

What Are My Rights And Responsibilities After The Permit Is Issued?

The permittee has the right to proceed with permitted activities. The permits are transferable but only upon written notification to the division. Minor modifications to the permit can be made administratively. If an extension is necessary, the applicant must reapply with the division. In the case of a denial or contested permit conditions, the applicant may appeal to the Water Quality Control Board within 30 days of a permit decision.

The applicant is responsible for complying with conditions and requirements as stated in the permit. These requirements and conditions are specific to the activity and may include periodic monitoring and inspections by the applicant. In addition, the applicant is responsible for obtaining any associated federal permits such as U.S. Army Corps of Engineers §404 and §10 permits and Tennessee Valley Authority §26a permits.

What Are The Division's Rights And Responsibilities After The Permit Is Issued?

The division has the right to inspect the site when deemed necessary. It also has the right to revoke, suspend or modify any permit for violation of permit conditions and any other provisions of The Tennessee Water Quality Control Act of 1977.

The waters of Tennessee are the property of the state and are held in public trust for the use of the people of the state, and the people of Tennessee, as beneficiaries of this trust, have a right to unpolluted waters. In the exercise of its public trust over the waters of the state, the division must take all prudent steps to protect for the future use of the waters so that the water resources of Tennessee might be used and enjoyed to the fullest extent consistent with the maintenance of unpolluted waters.

Whom Do I Contact For Applications, Assistance, And Other Sources of Information?

Information and an application for an Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit may be obtained from the Division of Water Resources or by e-mailing New applicants who need more than one permit can contact their Environmental Field Office for further assistance.

Applicants seeking coverage under a general or individual Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit for activities associated with an NPDES permit for mining-related discharges, a Surface Mining permit, Mineral test-hole permit, coverage under TMSP Sector J, or the Rock Harvesting general permit must submit an application to the Mining Section at the Knoxville Environmental Field Office.  Electronic application submittals and requests for information specific to mining-related activities may be received at

Applicants seeking an ARAP/Section 401 Water Quality Certification and a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Act Section 404 Permit can request a regulatory coordination meeting if the proposal is complex and/or a large-scale project with the potential to significantly impact water resources, especially those in which permittee-responsible mitigation (PRM) is proposed. If you have a project proposal that you think may meet these requirements please visit our regulatory coordination page to obtain additional information.

Applicants may refer to the following publications: