Hi Out There:
Does anybody have an opinion on using software for wetland forms on handhelds using Pocket PC? I have researched Wetform, Formations, and Wetland Quickforms, but not really sure which one is best and if there is anything else. Thanks...
The Corps has a wetland form program. Not the easiest to use, but is worth a look. No idea how it works on a hand held.
(download at bottom of page)
One thing you may want to consider before investing in software is to make sure that it will be compatible with or easily upgradable to a version that works with the various regional supplements now under development or in some cases already in use. While ther will be some similarity in how the delineation paperwork will look, there also will be some substantial differences. Any electronic tool must be able to adapt and move forward or its utility will be compromised.
Currently, the Corps is developing a software version of its new Rapanos Guidance, Jurisdictional Determination form (link below).
Someday, a wetlands practitioner should be able to use this JD software to identify and document watershed size, drainage area, downstream tributaries, river miles to the closest traditional navigable waters, surface flow, subsurface flow, significant nexus, and the boundaries of federal jurisdiction.
Anyone interested in wetlands software should consider obtaining a copy as soon as it becomes available, because the Jurisdictional Determination is the first step in the wetlands permit process.
I have produce computer wetland delineation forms (WetForm ACCESS) for seven of the regions and will continue with the rest as they are released by COE. These forms make date entry very easy with a lot of automatic lookup and calculation, and include the facility to include photos and maps in the output. The forms run in either MS ACCESS or as an independent "runtime" program on any PC regardless of whether ACCESS is installed. You can get to screen shots of the forms at http://www.wetform.com and purchase them through the web. The PDA version is only set up for the '87 version of the form at this time, but the regional versions will be developed over time.
The PDA version for Windows mobile devices including phones is now available for the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Region. I have a demo version that you can download and test on your device. The other regions will be developed over time, and I will work on the Midwest, Great Plains, and Western Mountains, Valleys and Coast over the winter of 2009-2010. You can get to Flash animated demonstrations as well as the demo download at http://www.WetForm.com
The Corps of Engineers has not yet released its latest Jurisdictional Determination forms that conform to the most recent Rapanos Guidance documents which were issued on Dec. 2, 2008.
The regional supplements to the Corps' Wetlands Delineation manual are not official regulations and do not impose legally binding requirements on the regulated public.
The regional supplements do not comply with the legal limits on CWA jurisdiction imposed by the US Supreme Court in its SWANCC and Rapanos decisions, and should not be used until unresolved legal issues surrounding jurisdiction are settled.
A wetlands practitioner may easily reach erroneous conclusions by using the regional supplements and thereby cause a land owner to become ensnared in a burdensome permit process when a permit is not legally required.
The forms are not intended to be jurisdictional wetland "determination" documents, but rather wetland "delineation" documents. Whether or not any particular wetland is jurissdictional, has always been based on final review by COE.
Some of the COE districts now require that the regional forms be used to document wetlands. Just as in the past with the 87 forms, the final wetland "determination" is based on a lot of factors, some of which are changing.
I just finished a pipeline corridor wetland delineation in eastern South Dakota, and the Midwest regional forms were required by the district. The report to COE is where the actual jurisdictional discussion occurs and includes a connectivity section.
In summary, the forms are required by some districts. If the forms change over time, I will make the changes to the software. The regional form development is continuing and I believe is here to stay with some inevitable modifications over time.
I noticed that the link you provided for the Rapanos Guidance isn't working. I know COE totally revised their web sites, so if you can find an updated link, that would be helpful. Just as a modification of your statement above, "delineation" not "determination" is the first step in wetland permitting. Determination is the middle step, and permitting is the final step that usually includes a mitigation plan.
Here is an interactive .pdf form for the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Region.
regional-delineation-form-interactive.pdf (424 Kb, 448 downloads) Atl-Gulf_coastal_data_form
Chip, Any idea why the Corps makes these pdf documents so that you can't save your work? It is frustrating that you can't fill it out, then come back to fix problems in the form later.
That is the great thing about this one - it CAN be saved! Try it out!
"...'delineation' not 'determination' is the first step in wetland permitting. Determination is the middle step, and permitting is the final step that usually includes a mitigation plan...”
Permitting practices vary considerably because each project is handled on a case-by-case basis. There are many projects where a Jurisdictional Determination is performed prior to delineation and this approach is often more favorable to landowners.
Below is a link to the Corps’ wetlands regulatory home page. There is no firm legal requirement within the body of wetlands law that compels a landowner to delineate non-jurisdictional wetlands or to notify the agencies when there is no impact to jurisdictional wetlands.
Given the on-going legal disputes over the boundaries of CWA jurisdiction, it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain a determination of “no-jurisdiction” from the Corps because the EPA is now overruling the Corps in such cases and introducing new delays and obstructions in the permitting process. Many landowners are discovering that it may be preferable to avoid dealing with these agencies on issues involving non-jurisdictional waters, especially when there is not a strict legal requirement to do so.
A landowner has the legal right to conduct an independent determination of CWA jurisdiction on its property and then avoid impacting jurisdictional waters, without notifying the agencies. Avoidance is encouraged under the law and should be practiced whenever possible.
Corps Regulatory Home Page:
Wetland delineation software-
It seems to me that you have gotten off topic. Your initial comment was that the Regional delineation forms might not be valid for determining jusrisdictional waters. That is mostly incorrect.
"The regional supplements do not comply with the legal limits on CWA jurisdiction imposed by the US Supreme Court in its SWANCC and Rapanos decisions, and should not be used until unresolved legal issues surrounding jurisdiction are settled."
Your statement seems non-sensical to me. There is no jurisdictional implication in the forms. They are used to define wetlands - Period.
The function of the wetland delineation form is to document the presence of wetlands, and the decision making process that went into defining the boundary, Whether or not the wetland is jurisdictional is not the function of the forms, and there is absolutely nowhere on the form where jurisdiction is implied. I challenge you to find the work "jurisdiction" on any of the regional forms. Determining jurisdiction happens separately, and is solely the decision of COE. As a consultant I can provide my evidence for jurisdiction or non-jurisdiction, and they can accept or reject it. I think your confusion may stem from the title of the forms which is "Wetland Determination..." The title should probably be changed to Wetland Delineation since it is based on a Wetland Delineation manual, not a Wetland Determination Manual.
You mention that there are instances where the completion of the Jurisdictional determination form would come first. I can only think of one situation where that makes any sense, and that is the situation where there where no wetlands of any type on the site.
Even in that situation, someone who knows how to identify wetlands according to COE criteria had better make an on-site survey, or the individual/organization is foolish and setting themselves up for grief. Of course there can be exceptions to this, such as projects that are totally in an upland with no drainages, springs, seeps, potholes, roadside ditches, or irrigation ditches, etc. that connect to a water of the US. If there are any wetlands (jurisdictional or not), the prudent thing to do is delineate them. If they all happen to be non-jurisdictional then fill out the jurisditional detetmination form and submit a request for confirmation of a finding of non-jurisdictional wetlands. Contrary to your statement, I have found a quick response to these requests from COE. Your experience may be different, so it will always be a good idea to just give the district engineer a call and ask how quickly they can respond.
So in summary, the delineation forms are required and they are NOT determination forms. The detetmination decision is in flux, and just check with the district engineer to get an update on how they want you to proceed.
The Jurisdictional Determination Forms are not the same as the Wetland Determination Forms. They just serve as a nice way to summarize what is going on at the site. The COE is the sole determiner of what is or is not jurisdictional, not a form.
The situation where you would fill out a detetmination form without doing a delineation form first, is a site where there were no wetlands at all.
Not reporting all wetlands at a site, and getting confirmation from COE in situations where you THINK they are non-jurisdictional, may be legal, but it is risky and foolish.
If you were confident that there were no jurisdictional wetlands, and you impact them, and guessed wrong without checking with COE, and get caught. You are in deep yogurt.
That is your decision. Be safe or be risky.
EPA Ties Clean Water Enforcement Challenges Directly To Supreme Court Cases
October 21, 2009
Administrator Jackson Reiterates Call for Legislative Solution
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson issued a Clean Water Act Enforcement Action Plan recently during a Congressional hearing on the Clean Water Act, which Congress passed to protect water quality throughout the United States. EPA's plan directly connects declining enforcement of the law with two Supreme Court decisions that threaten to remove protections for 20 million acres of wetlands and tens of thousands of miles of streams across the country.
EPA's Clean Water Act Enforcement Action Plan identifies significant limitations that affect the agency's ability to quickly identify and respond to serious water quality problems: "[A]mong these limitations are two Supreme Court decisions – its 2001 decision in Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. United States Army Corps of Engineers and its 2006 decision in Rapanos v. United States – that added layers of confusion regarding which water bodies are covered by the Clean Water Act in many parts of the country." (citations omitted)
The plan also reiterates EPA's support for "legislative changes to remove the barriers these [Supreme Court] decisions have created in clean water enforcement…. [T]hese decisions have negatively impacted EPA's ability to enforce by significantly increasing the amount of time and resources it takes to bring enforcement actions necessary to protect our waters."
"EPA's Clean Water Enforcement Action Plan could not be more clear: These Supreme Court decisions undermine Clean Water Act enforcement and create confusion about whether waters are protected or not," says Scott Kovarovics, Conservation Director at the Izaak Walton League of America. "The U.S. House of Representatives must act this fall to restore Clean Water Act protections for streams, wetlands, and drinking water across the country."
For more information visit http://www.epa.gov/compliance/.../cwa/cwaenfplan.html
Wetland form software!!!!!!!!
Exactly how does this relate to Wetland Delineation Form Software? I really think this belongs on another thread. Is this the right place for repeating over and over again that the CWA is a bit foggy about wetlands?
I don't think a bit of this is relevant to the Regional wetland delineation forms or software.
JURISDICTIONAL DETERMINATION IS A WHOLE OTHER TOPIC. Can you hear me now?
Its the adobe format that is the problem. You need either Adobe Acrobat Standard or Professional to be able to save form PDFs with the entered data. Adobe reader will allow you to fill them out and print, but not to save the actual form data.
Regarding the on-going controversy surrounding CWA jurisdiction, Patrick asked:
“…Exactly how does this relate to Wetland Delineation Form Software?...”
The Wetland Delineation Form software is probably a good product and a useful tool for preparing the database to support an official wetlands delineation. However, its application may be limited if the proposed Clean Water Restoration Act is not passed.
In the article above, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson acknowledges; “declining enforcement of the law with two Supreme Court decisions that threaten to remove protections for 20 million acres of wetlands and tens of thousands of miles of streams across the country.”
These 20 million acres of non-jurisdictional wetlands currently are not subject to strict federal permitting and delineation requirements. This is an example of how the jurisdictional issue limits the use and applicability of the regional supplements to the Corps’ Wetlands Delineation Manual (and Wetland Delineation Form software).
I guess I will just keep repeating the same statement over and over again. You may not legally need to delineate non-jurisdictional wetlands on a project, but you would be a fool not to, and you would send a huge red flag to your district engineer if you didn't.
For any project, you should delineate all of the wetlands - regardless of jurisdiction. Then evaluate the jurisdictional status. Since the Wetland delineation(Determination) forms are strictly for documenting the decision process for defining wetland boundaries (and not jurisdiction) then unless you are a glutton for risky behavior, it will have absolutely zilch effect on what you do in the field to map wetlands.
Only a fool would hand a wetland delineation report to COE and say that I am only reporting jurisdictional wetlands since you don't have to delineate non-jurisdictional wetlands. That is like a red cape in front of a bull, saying "Test me, I really don't know what I am doing".
Johnny, honestly have you ever handed in a delineation report with a complex of wetlands and mapped only the jursdictional wetlands and the COE said "fine". I have never had that experience in 24 years of wetland mapping. I mapped my first wetlands for COE in east Texas in 1985, two years before the '87 manual was published.
I think you are focused on the theoretical implications of past and future laws and regulations related to jurisdiction, but as I see it all of the wetlands will need to be mapped/delineated all of the time. Of course that could change, but I don't think it will.
The jurisdictional issue places no limits whatsoever on the applicability of the regional supplements or the 87 COE manual. Patrick pretty muched summed it up with this statement:
First, it is not up to the delineator to decide what is and what isn't a jurisdictional wetland (you yourself said that to me in an off topic post in another thread). Second, with the release of the regional supplements COE districts are requiring that delineations be completed using those supplements (again, as Patrick already mentioned). Third, while it is true that the SWANCC and Rapanos decisions impact the protection of isolated wetlands, this in no way absolves the delienator from doing his or her duty. Do you honestly think that the COE will write off determinations simply because the delineator says there is no hydrological connection but has no documentation to prove that?
“Governments have an inescapable responsibility for the conservation and wise use of all natural resources, especially soil and water. Owners have actually merely a lifetime interest in their lands; but communities, countries, States, and the Federal Government have a perpetual interest in the preservation of this indispensible asset.” – Harlow S. Person, National Resources Committee, Washington D.C., 1936
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