Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands Section
"Are There Wetlands on My Property?"
The State of Delaware and the federal government both have laws and regulations that govern wetlands, but they use different methods for determining the location and extent of the wetlands they regulate. To determine if you have State-regulated tidal wetlands on your property, please contact DNREC's Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands Section (WSLS) and provide the “contact person of the day” with a detailed description of your property location.
The wetlands regulated under Delaware’s "Wetlands Act" are depicted on jurisdictional maps maintained at the Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands Section office in Dover. Under most circumstances, the contact person of the day can determine if State-regulated wetlands exist on your property by referring to those official regulatory maps. Sometimes a site visit by a staff scientist from the WSLS is necessary to more accurately locate the boundary between uplands and wetlands on a particular parcel.
To determine if you may have federally regulated wetlands on your property, a detailed onsite investigation is typically required. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requires that wetlands regulated under their program be delineated by a wetland scientist knowledgeable in using the Corps’ delineation manual. Delineation requires a detailed evaluation of soils, hydrology and plants to determine the presence of a regulated wetland. Environmental consultants who can perform a wetland delineation using the Corps methodology can be found on the WSLS Consultants List. To obtain a copy of this list, please contact the Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands Section at 302-739-9943. For more detailed information regarding the federal regulatory programs for wetlands and waters call the Philadelphia District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Regulator of the Day, at 215-656-6728, or visit the Corp's website.
If you determine that there are wetlands on your property, it means that you may need a permit from DNREC and/or the Army Corps of Engineers if you are proposing any construction or landscape modification activity that might encroach upon the wetlands. The County governments may also have certain setback requirements from wetlands for the placement of structures. Be sure to contact DNREC and the Corps to discuss your plans for such activities as early as possible in the planning process.
But, if wetlands do exist on your property, you should also count yourself very lucky! Wetlands contain wonderful wildlife habitat and function as important water quality, groundwater recharge and flood storage areas.