Section 404 of the Clean Water Act

Compensatory Mitigation

This page provides updates and background information regarding Clean Water Act Section 404 Compensatory Mitigation Requirements.

In 2008, EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers jointly promulgated regulations revising and clarifying requirements regarding compensatory mitigation.  According to these regulations, compensatory mitigation means the restoration (re-establishment or rehabilitation), establishment (creation), enhancement, and/or in certain circumstances preservation of wetlands, streams and other aquatic resources for the purposes of offsetting unavoidable adverse impacts which remain after all appropriate and practicable avoidance and minimization has been achieved.

Under the regulations, there are three mechanisms for providing compensatory mitigation (listed in order of preference as established by the regulations): mitigation banksin-lieu fee programs, and permittee-responsible mitigation.

On this page:

Compensatory Mitigation Regulations

Compensatory Mitigation Guidance


RIBITS (Regulatory In-lieu fee and Bank Information Tracking System)

RIBITS was developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with support from EPA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide better information on mitigation and conservation banking and in-lieu fee programs across the country. RIBITS allows users to access information on the types and numbers of mitigation and conservation bank and in-lieu fee program sites, associated documents, mitigation credit availability, service areas, as well information on national and local policies and procedures that affect mitigation and conservation bank and in-lieu fee program development and operation.


Compensatory Mitigation Factsheets

  • 2012 A Function-Based Framework for Stream Assessment & Restoration Projects, EPA 843-K-12-006 (PDF) (344 pp, 8MB) – This report lays out a framework for approaching stream assessment and restoration projects that focuses on understanding the suite of stream functions at a site in the context of what is happening in the watershed.  It has been developed to:

    1. Help the restoration community understand that stream functions are interrelated and generally build on each other in a specific order, a functional hierarchy, and understand that parameters can be used to assess those functions even if some parameters are functions and others are structural measures.

    2. Place reach scale restoration projects into watershed context and recognize that site selection is as important as the reach scale activities themselves.

    3. Provide informal guidance and ideas on how regional stream assessment procedures might incorporate stream functions into debit/credit determination methods, function-based assessments and performance standards.

  • 2012 UPDATED Natural Channel Design Review Checklist, EPA 843-B-12-005 (96 pp, 32MB) – This checklist and supporting document has been updated with supplementary materials and has been reformatted. It provides guidance on important items to consider when reviewing natural channel designs. It is intended to provide the reviewer with a rapid method for determining whether a project design contains an appropriate level of information for review and evaluation. Updated Excel spreadsheet version of Checklist 

  • 2011 Appalachian Stream Mitigation Workshop – The workshop included presentations designed to inform state and federal regulatory and resource agencies, who review, comment on and/or approve compensatory mitigation plans for surface coal mining projects in Appalachia. Additional information on the workshop, the presentation materials, and additional resources are provided.

  • 2010 Stream Mitigation Protocol Compendium, EPA 843-S-12-003 (155 pp, 1MB) - This report provides a review of 32 stream assessment protocols and mitigation guidance documents in use by various federal and state government agencies nationwide. It identifies stream functions or conditions assessed, parameters or attributes measured, assessment results obtained, intensity of effort and training needed, use and source of reference condition information, and other factors potentially instructive to parties seeking to review, initiate, or modify stream assessment programs.

    • APPENDIX A (10 pp, 81K) Hydraulic Regional Curves for Selected Areas of the United States

    • PART II (79 pp, 532K) Reviews of Representative Stream Assessment and Mitigation Protocols