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Stream & Wetland Delineation

What is it?

Delineation is the process of identifying and locating the federal jurisdictional limits of streams and wetlands on the tract. The boundaries are flagged and mapped, so you know exactly where permits may be needed, if impacted.

Why is it needed?

After the streams and wetlands are located with an approved delineation, it allows the development planners to see areas that may need to be avoided or impacts need to be minimized during the planning process.

What is involved?

There are three criteria that must be evaluated, soils, plants, and hydrology. Samples are taken throughout the tract to determine if the three criteria are met to qualify for federal jurisdiction. The jurisdictional boundary can then be determined. Once the boundary of jurisdiction is determined, it can then be flagged and mapped. A delineation report is sent to the U.S. Army, Corps of Engineers for verification and approval. Only the Corps of Engineers have the authority to approve a jurisdictional determination.

What is compensatory mitigation?

Every individual, developer, government agency (i.e. DOT), utility or any other entity who causes destruction or adverse impact to jurisdictional wetlands or streams is required, under federal law (The Clean Water Act), to submit an application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a permit and must submit a plan of “compensatory mitigation” designed to protect, enhance or restore other natural wetlands and streams to “compensate” for loss.

Prior to July 2008, a developer might submit as their compensatory mitigation plan (for unavoidable wetland or stream impact caused by their land disturbance) the creation of wetlands somewhere on the site (in other words, man-made wetlands). As of July 2008, the new national mitigation rules require the applicant to purchase credits from a mitigation bank permitted by the Corps of Engineers if there is one within the primary service area of the impact.

This new rule is very beneficial as it relates to adequate and appropriate mitigation, because mitigation banks are designed and permitted to protect, enhance and restore natural wetlands and streams.

Do I need a wetland permit?

Does your project area have a jurisdictional stream or wetland?

Get a jurisdictional determination. Not all streams or wetlands are jurisdictional. If Jurisdictional areas are present, get them delineated so that you will know up front where, if any, permits are needed. It may be advisable to modify development plans to avoid impacting jurisdictional areas. If the jurisdictional areas cannot be avoided, a permit may be necessary.

Will compensatory mitigation credits be required for the permit & if so, how much?

Compensatory mitigation is required when a development plan impacts jurisdictional streams and/or wetlands. The amount of mitigation credits required is determined by an ecological value calculated for each site. Wetland credits impacted must be offset with wetland mitigation credits. Stream credits impacted must be offset with stream mitigation credits.

Visit these Pages for more information

Charleston District Corp. of Engineer
US Fish & Wildlife Service - Southeast Region
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services - SC
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources