Note: Most states have enacted laws and regulations to protect wetlands. In many cases, these rules are established to define the state's role in the "§404 permit/§401 certification process." This process involves the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and your state environmental agency. To learn more about the wetlands permitting process go to the CICA Wetlands Regulations/Permit page.
How Are Wetlands Activities Regulated by North Carolina? In North Carolina, wetlands permits are issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers and must be certified by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Water Quality (DWQ) before they are valid. In the 20 coastal counties, projects must also receive a Division of Coastal Management (DCM) CAMA (costal management) permit.
To further protect wetlands, North Carolina has implemented a wetlands draining policy (see description below under "other wetlands resources"). In some cases, this policy extends to situations not covered under federal wetlands rules. DWQ intends to examine wetland drainage activities for compliance with the state's wetland water quality standards, particularly those for hydrologic conditions necessary to support wetlands function (15A NCAC 2B .0231(b)(5) and biological integrity (15A NCAC 2B .0231(b)(6)). "Drainage activities" include ditching and installation of groundwater pumping systems that affect wetlands after March 1, 1999. If DWQ discovers any such "drainage activities", DWQ staff will notify landowners in writing that their activity has violated or is likely to violate the state's wetland standards. The landowner will then be given a short time to refute DWQ's findings. If these findings are not successfully refuted, DWQ will initiate an enforcement action and require that the natural hydrology be restored.
Also of importance to certain projects are the isolated wetlands rules. If the US Army Corps of Engineers determines that a particular water is isolated and not regulated under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, then discharges to that water are covered by these rules (See below, "Rules Affecting Discharges to Isolated Wetlands" under "Other Wetlands Resources", 15A NCAC 02H .1301 - .1305). Isolated wetlands are those waters which are inundated or saturated by an accumulation of surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions and under normal circumstances have no visible surface water connection to downstream waters of the state.
Mitigation Measures. Permit applications are subject to federal regulations. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the conditions it prescribes for compensatory mitigation under its §404 permit program, are coordinated and consistent with the state's basinwide plans for wetlands restoration, forcing all applicants to satisfy mitigation requirements created by both the state and federal government.
Wetlands. ENR currently has jurisdiction to regulate estuarine waters and marshland as they are defined by statute. The definition for marshland, including any marsh or saltmarsh area subject to regular or occasional flowing tides and similar areas that support saltmarsh plant species, approximates the meaning other states give wetlands.
Regulated Wetland Activities. These permits are required before an individual can begin any major development in any area of environmental concern, unless the development is exempt.
Water Environment Federation. The WEF Web site provides access to a wetlands related technical discussion area, as well as publications and other information on wetlands.
Wetlands Regulation Center. The Wetlands Regulation Center Web site contains information on laws, policies and regulations concerning activities regulated under Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act.
Association of State Wetland Managers. The Association of State Wetland Managers Web site provides information on wetlands news and events, including new regulations/legislation, upcoming conferences and events, publications, and more.
Society of Wetland Scientists. The Society of Wetland Scientists Web site provides access to on-line scientific wetlands journals and a wetlands discussion forum, as well as information on upcoming wetlands conferences and events.
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