Section 401/404 Wetlands

Section 401 of the Clean Water Act of 1972 (CWA) provides states and authorized tribes with regulatory oversight to manage their wetland/stream permitting programs. Section 404 of the CWA establishes a program to regulate the placement of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including wetlands.

Wetlands that are hydrologically connected to navigable waters are referred to as “404 Wetlands.” Generally, isolated wetlands that are not hydrologically connected to navigable waters are referred to as “isolated” or “401 Wetlands.”

What kind of wetlands are on your property? Contact Headwater for an answer.

Coastal Wetlands

Coastal wetlands are those wetlands that are regularly inundated by the tide. Coastal wetlands are the most recognizable type of wetland. They are often referred to as tidal marshlands, estuaries, or coastal marshlands.

Coastal wetlands provide outdoor enthusiasts with recreational opportunities, offer safe harbor and spawning and feeding grounds for aquatic wildlife, and have breathtaking views. Stringent regulatory requirements often apply to these wetlands.

Many of the most valuable properties in the country are located adjacent to coastal wetlands. Your investment in coastal property is extremely important. Contact Headwater with your questions.


In general, there are three types of streams. Ephemeral streams carry water only during a rain event. Intermittent streams flow during certain times of the year and can even flow above and below ground, resulting in non-contiguous riffles and pools. Perennial streams flow year-round.

Certain rivers and streams have vegetated buffer requirements. These buffer requirements vary by drainage basin, state, and municipality. Maintained and dredged streams can have the appearance of a ditch or canal. But not all ditches and canals are streams! Each type of drainage feature can affect a project differently.

Need assistance? Contact Headwater, and we will help guide you navigate the regulatory requirements.

Cypress swamp (Taxiodium distichum) in Brunswick County, North Carolina

Coastal wetlands in Pender County, North Carolina

Perennial stream in Hamilton County, Ohio

Wetland Permitting

The regulatory program for wetlands varies by state. Delineating wetlands is often the easy part. Guiding the project through the permitting process takes experience and, more importantly, attention to detail and strong communication skills.

A healthy relationship with regulatory agencies is the backbone of any permit application. Headwater has developed lasting relationships with regulatory representatives in numerous jurisdictions. Allow Headwater to assist with your permitting needs. A list of regulatory agencies is listed below for your information:

A culverted road crossing over a perennial stream in Virginia Beach, Virginia—yes, this requires a permit!