Wading into Wetlands

Properties determined to be wetlands may be subject to regulatory jurisdiction under Section 404 of the Federal Clean Water Act — which can have a major impact on how that property can be used.

But what actually constitutes a wetland? The State and Federal government both have definitions.

The Federal Government defines wetlands based on the presence of three indicators: “wetland hydrology,” “hydrophytic vegetation, and “hydric soils.” (In very simplified terms, these criteria all relate to saturated or submerged soils and plants that thrive in those soggy conditions.) What’s more, any wetlands classified as a “water of the United States” are regulated under the Clean Water Act

The State of Florida, however, has a slightly different standard, which only requires two of those three indicators to be present. Florida may also regulate filling and destruction of wetlands that are not even considered to be “waters of the United States.”

If you’re considering a project that might affect adjacent wetlands or surface waters, it’s possible that both state and federal permits may be required. The Environmental Resource Permit Program within the Department of Environmental Protection regulates “the construction, alteration, maintenance, removal, modification and operation of all activities in uplands, wetlands and all other surface waters that alter, divert and change the flow of surface waters.”

Obviously, there are many considerations involved in any development activity near wetland areas. ERMI personnel have received special training to help determine whether a particular property qualifies as a wetland, and to delineate the borders of that wetland.

Our wetland evaluations will typically result in three specific findings:

Delineation results map – This map indicates the boundaries of each delineated wetland or stream, the location of all data points, and the area of investigation. Both wetland and tributary boundaries will be clearly marked to aid in agency verification.

Evaluation report – A thorough overview of our delineation methods, results, data forms documenting the findings, photographs, climate conditions before and at the time of the delineation, and other relevant figures.

Wetlands are a vital resource for Florida. If you’re considering a project near potential wetlands, let ERMI  help you avoid any environmental or regulatory missteps.