Unftad St*M
               Environmental Protection
                                    Office of Water (WH-556F),
                                    Office of Wetlands. Oceans,
                                    and Watersheds (A-104 F)
March 1993
              WETLANDS FACT SHEET # 20

              Clean Water Act § 404(f) Exemptions

      Section 404 of the dean Water Act (Act)   production are also exempt. To find out whether
requires permits for the discharge of dredged or   specific activities are exempt, contact the local
fill material into waters of the United States,   Corps or EPA office
including wetlands.

      Section 404(f) of the Act generally ex-
empts discharges of dredged or fill material
associated with normal farming, ranching, and
forestry activities such as plowing, cultivating,
minor drainage, and harvesting for the produc-
tion of food, fiber, and forest products or upland
soil and water conservation practices. This ex-
emption pertains to normal fanning and har-
vesting activities that are part of an established,
ongoing farming or forestry operation.

    Activities Not Exempt

      If an activity involving a discharge of
dredged or fill material represents a new use of
the wetland, and the activity would result in a
reduction in reach or impairment of flow or circula-
tion of regulated waters, including wetlands,
the activity is not exempt. Both conditions must
be met in order for the activity to be considered


      Activities that bring a wetland into farm
production where that wetland has not previ-
ously been used for farming are not considered
part of an established operation, and therefore
are not exempt  In general, any discharge of
dredged or fiu material associated with an activ-
ity that converts a wetland to upland is not
exempt, and requires a Section 404 permit.

      However, introduction of a new cultiva-
tion technique such as discing between crop
rows for  weed control  may be a new farming
activity, but because the farm operation is ongo-
ing, the activity is exempt from permit require-
ments under Section 404. Planting different
crops as part of an established rotation, such as
soybeans to rice, is exempt Discharges associ-
ated with ongoing rotations of rice and crawfish
                                         Activities Exempt Under the
                                         Clean Water Act Section 404 (f)
                                          Established (ongoing) normal fanning,
                                          ranching, and forestry activities:
                                             • plowing
                                             - seeding
                                             - cultivating
                                             • harvesting food, fiber, and
                                              forest products
                                             - minor drainage
                                             -upland soil and water
                                              conservation practices
                                          Maintenance (but not construction) of
                                          drainage ditches
                                          Construction and maintenance of
                                          irrigation ditches
                                          Construction and maintenance of farm
                                          or stock ponds
                                          Construction andmaintenance of farm
                                          or forest roads, in accordance with best
                                          management practices
                                          Maintenance of structures, such as
                                          dams, dikes/ and levees
                                       The publication "Agriculture and Wetlands: A
                                       Compilation of Factsheets" can be requested
                                       free of charge from the EPA Wetlands Hotline.
     For more information, contact the EPA Wetlands Hotline at 1-800-832-7828 *
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