RELATED ECOLOGY PROGRAMS
Wetland regulation & permitting resources
Two state laws, the state Water Pollution Control Act and the Shoreline Management Act, give us the authority to regulate wetlands. We also use the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process to identify potential wetland-related concerns early in the permitting process.
Our regional wetland staff review applications for projects that have the potential to impact wetlands and other "waters of the state." Applicants who propose altering aquatic resources must go through mitigation sequencing to avoid and minimize impacts before determining whether compensatory mitigation is appropriate and a permit is required.
We also administer Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act. We approve, condition, or deny proposed projects in water of the U.S., including wetlands, to ensure they meet state water quality standards. Any actions necessary to protect water quality are then included as conditions in the 401 water quality certification.
In addition, we provide technical assistance to local governments under the Growth Management Act. This includes assistance in developing comprehensive plan policies and development regulations, and in implementing local regulations.
Regulation of specific wetland types
State laws that protect wetlands are broader than the federal regulations. The state can establish protocols for managing wetlands that fall outside of federal jurisdiction. For example, impacts to wetlands outside of federal jurisdiction, such as isolated wetlands, are authorized through administrative orders under the State Water Pollution Control Act.
Local wetland regulations
In general, the state emphasizes a local approach to wetland protection and regulation. Counties and municipalities are authorized and required by the Growth Management Act (GMA) to regulate wetlands within their jurisdictions, which is typically accomplished through adoption of a critical areas ordinance. We play an advisory role by providing comments during critical areas ordinance (CAO) updates and by offering technical assistance.
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