May 26, 2017, 8:46 pm
Wetland Delineation

The Definition

The regulatory definition of a wetland as used by EPA and the USACE in administration of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act is: “Those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstance do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs and similar areas.” (EPA, 40 CFR 230.3 and CE, 33 CFR 328.3)

Wetlands come in all shapes and sizes. These include the more easily recognizable type such as hardwood swamps, saltmarsh, non-tidal freshwater marshes, and bogs, as well as less apparent wetlands, such as poorly drained flats, potholes, and dune swales. Some of these wetlands are dry for much of the year and many are under agricultural or forestry cultivation. They all, however, are characterized by saturated soil occurring at sufficient duration during the growing season to establish anaerobic conditions and the resultant specific biotic community.

Who Needs It?

Silviculture Operations
Why? Activities in certain types of wetlands may not be exempt or may fall outside of BMPs. If this is the case, your actions may be regulated by the Clean Water Act.

Farmers
Are you bringing new land into production or does your farming interest include silviculture activities? You may be guilty of “swampbusting” if you clear any wetland area to the extent that crop production is considered possible.

Developers
If your project impacts areas that are considered wetlands you may be subject to fines, penalties, and needless delays.

Private Landowners
Will you be disturbing any areas of your property that fall under the definition of wetlands? If so, your activities are regulated by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Some Things to Think About
Can you afford to run the risk of delays by not identifying wetlands in advance?
Farm subsidies could be lost by “swampbusting” even if not intentional.
Silviculture operations may be halted by the USACE while they sort out potential violations.
Violations of the Clean Water Act and/or FSA/FACTA could mean costly restoration and fines up to $25,000 per day.