Building in wetlands is usually not an engineer's or contractor's first choice, but sometimes it is unavoidable. State, local and federal agencies may have permit authority, and the application process usually requires a lot of site-specific information. Here are a few tips to remember when applying for wetland permits:

  1. Avoid and minimize. 
    If at all possible, design your project so that wetlands will not need to be filled. If that is not an option, try to minimize the wetland disturbance by relocating driveways, turning a proposed building, changing the shape of a parking lot, etc.
  2. Avoid higher quality wetlands. 
    For example, try to avoid impacts to a wooded wetland if a lower quality wetland with invasive species can be filled on site instead.
  3. Restore and stabilize temporary impacts with appropriate vegetation. 
    Temporary impacts to wetlands, such as utility installation or temporary access roads, should be restored after construction with plantings or a seed mix that would naturally be found in similar wetland complexes. However, don't plant invasives, even if they are found nearby!
  4. Include a dewatering plan on the plan sheets. 
    If you're building near wetlands, don't be surprised if there is high groundwater nearby. Make sure your contractor is prepared to dewater the site in a way that prevents sediment - loden water from flowing downstream.

Wetland fill permits are not impossible to obtain, but they can be complicated. Contact our experts if you have questions about wetland permitting in Illinois or Wisconsin.

About the Author

Maureen McBroom

Maureen A. McBroom
Environmental Coordinator

Maureen is dedicated to the protection and improvement of Wisconsin’s resources through close collaboration with municipalities and their citizens.  Efficient & effective implementation, driven by strong relationships and communication, are drivers behind her project implementation strategies.  She has experience in the WDNR’s Runoff Program, specifically issuing WPDES Permit coverage for construction site erosion control & long-term storm water plans, industrial storm water sites and municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permittees. Maureen has been with R/M since 2015.

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