Port Hadlock, WAWetlandsDuvall, WABlaine, WAWhich of these are actually wetland areas per the Stateand Federal code and which aren’t but have beenidentified by Ecology and/or municipal staff to be wetlandareas incorrectly?
Codes and Regulations in a Nutshell What codes regulate wetlands? The Federal Clean Water Act The Growth Management Act (Chapter 36.70a RCW)and Shoreline Management Act In reality, your municipality and the Corps do, Ecology believes they do.• Section 401 certification• Water Pollution Control Act• Shoreline Management Act
Codes and Regulations in a Nutshell(Continued)What are the primary codes regulate ecological criticalareas?In Washington State, first and foremost, MUNICIPAL CODESenacted because of State Code requirements, howeverFederal Codes can have precedence: Federal Clean Water Act 33 U.S.C. § 1251 et seq., The WaterQuality Act of 1987 Endangered Species Act of 1973, (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544, 87Stat. 884), as amended -- Public Law 93-205, approvedDecember 28, 1973 The Growth Management Act, 1990, as amended (Chapter36.70a RCW) Shoreline Management Act of 1971, as amended (Chapter90.58 RCW)
Codes and Regulations in a Nutshell(Continued)What’s the difference between the Growth Management Act (GMA) andthe Shoreline Management Act (SMA)?GMA is ONLY administered by municipalities (exclusively), other state agenciescan assist or comment, but cannot directly impact the municipal code.SMA is also ONLY administered by the municipalities, but not exclusively andEcology can have direct oversight and influence on the municipal code. Ecologycan force a municipality to adopt a code written by Ecology.The GMA requires Best Available Science (BAS), the SMA does not, however, allcodes technically require the applicable, most current science, especially whencritical areas began being included in the SMA in 2010.There are other differences, but this is a topic for the full workshop. However,the SMA typically only applies to shorelines and the area within 200 feet of theShoreline Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM), or other regulatory boundary(marine shorelines are typically based on the “high tide” elevations developedby NOAA).
SMAThe SMA waspromulgated in 1971and is one of the StateCodes Ecology points towhen they state that theagency regulateswetlands.The GMA does notinclude Ecology in anyaspect of the regulationof wetlands ; although itcan provide technicalsupport as requested ascan any state agency.This shoreline is in Jefferson County (Southeast corner of Marrowstone Island). Ecology has total oversight and approval powerin the SMA municipal ordinances and can actually write the Shoreline Master Program and force a municipality to adopt it.There is no OHWM in marine areas because this is tidally influences, but Ecology applies OHWM and riparian managementto these areas, which is incompatible with the geomorphology, hydrology, and shoreline conditions in these areas.
OHWM From the SMA (RCW 90.58.030(2)(b) and WAC 173-22-030(11)) "Ordinary high water mark" on all lakes, streams, and tidal water is that mark that will be foundby examining the bed and banks and ascertaining where the presence and action of waters are socommon and usual, and so long continued in all ordinary years, as to mark upon the soil acharacter distinct from that of the abutting upland, in respect to vegetation as that condition existson June 1, 1971, as it may naturally change thereafter, or as it may change thereafter inaccordance with permits issued by a local government or the department: PROVIDED, that in anyarea where the ordinary high water mark cannot be found, the ordinary high water mark adjoiningsalt water shall be the line of mean higher high tide and the ordinary high water mark adjoiningfresh water shall be the line of mean high water. Problems: Tidal waters do not have OHWMs, nor do lakes, at least not the same as streams and rivers. Marineenvironments typically rely on tidal data from NOAA. Large lakes typically rely on gage data (including the Great Lakes) The OHWM is a regulatory definition from common law and is NOT scientific nor can it be scientificallyascertained because it is not based on natural science. The OHWM is not repeatable (making it unscientific) and is generally different depending on who ismaking the determination, which is problematic especially on lakes and marine shorelines. The reasonfor this is the regulatory definition for a wetland which is necessarily vague.
OHWM from EcologyThis is incorrect,because it puts theOHWM higherthan the BankfullFlow, which is theflow at wherenatural levees areformed andimmediatelybefore floodplainflooding occursand is not commonon most streamsand rivers.Patricia Olson isan Ecologyhydrogeologist,however, sheshould knowbetter than todefine theOHWMscientifically,especiallyhaving it higherthan theBankfull flowFrom: DETERMINING THE ORDINARY HIGH WATER MARK ON STREAMS IN WASHINGTON STATE , Ecology Publication #: 08-06-001, March2010 Second Review Draft, Olson, P. and Stockdale, E.
Critical Areas that have the greatestImpact on Private PropertyThe GMA lists several required critical areas, these include:• Ecological Critical Areas• Wetland Areas• Fish and Wildlife Conservation Areas• Environmental Critical Areas• Aquifer Recharge Areas• Wellhead Protection Areas• Frequently Flooded Areas• Geologic Hazards• Erosion hazard• Landslide hazard• Seismic hazard• Volcanic hazard• Mine hazardsThe skills of the person conducting the studies and the level and breadth of the science that isused, and the proof that this person has the minimal skills necessary (licensing) is important,because this will effect the accuracy of the findings and conclusions and the impacts toproperty. There is no room for assumptions, angelic intervetion, or speculation in these studies.
WetlandsWetlands are typically the most common critical areas that impact private property (streamsand other water bodies are the second most common – all of which are hydrologic features).However, wetland areas have been regulated under the Clean Water Act (Section 404) since1972 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the United StatesArmy Corps of Engineers (USACE).Unless a wetland area is not jurisdictional (does not have a significant nexus with Waters ofthe United States), it is also regulated under federal codes and by the USACE.Ecology is not authorized under Section 404 of the CWA nor does the GMA provide Ecologyany regulatory authority under critical areas ordinances (but the SMA does, however, theShoreline Master Programs are still municipal codes!).Every municipality has its own GMA critical areas ordinance (and many now have SMA criticalareas ordinances) and in many cases, these codes are different, including differentclassification systems for wetlands, different “buffers”, and even different methods foridentifying wetlands.However, all critical areas ordinances must, at a minimum, meet the federal requirements forwetland determinations and must include the same definition for a wetland that is in federalcode (33 CFR § 328.3(b)), which is also included in the Growth Management Act (and SMA)definition for a wetland.
Wetland (Cont.)33 CFR § 328.3(b):(b) The term wetlands means those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances dosupport, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlandsgenerally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas.RCW 36.70A.030 (Growth Management Act Definitions)(21) "Wetland" or "wetlands" means areas that are inundated or saturated by surface water or groundwater at a frequencyand duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typicallyadapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas. Wetlandsdo not include those artificial wetlands intentionally created from nonwetland sites, including, but not limited to, irrigation anddrainage ditches, grass-lined swales, canals, detention facilities, wastewater treatment facilities, farm ponds, and landscapeamenities, or those wetlands created after July 1, 1990, that were unintentionally created as a result of the construction of aroad, street, or highway. Wetlands may include those artificial wetlands intentionally created from nonwetland areas createdto mitigate conversion of wetlandsChapter 90.58.030 RCW (Shoreline Management Act Definitions):(2)(h) "Wetlands" means areas that are inundated or saturated by surface water or groundwater at a frequency and durationsufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life insaturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas. Wetlands do not include thoseartificial wetlands intentionally created from nonwetland sites, including, but not limited to, irrigation and drainage ditches,grass-lined swales, canals, detention facilities, wastewater treatment facilities, farm ponds, and landscape amenities, or thosewetlands created after July 1, 1990, that were unintentionally created as a result of the construction of a road, street, orhighway. Wetlands may include those artificial wetlands intentionally created from nonwetland areas to mitigate theconversion of wetlands.
Wetland HydrologyFrom Ducks Unlimited, 2010Wetland hydrology is ground waterhydrology, Ducks Unlimited, Ecology, andthe Corps seem to forget this (as do mostwetland scientists).From: Lee, T.M., Haag, K.H., Metz, P.A., Sacks, L.A., 2009,Comparative Hydrology, Water Quality, and Ecology of SelectedNatural and Augmented Freshwater Wetlands in West-CentralFlorida: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1758, 152 p.
Types of Wetland AreasThe CWA established the definition for a jurisdictional wetland, however, this definition is somewhat vague."Wetlands are areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient tosupport, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturatedsoil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas.“ [How similar is similar?]The GMA and SMA have defined what is not a wetland in addition to having adopted the CWA’s definitionof a wetland.“Wetlands do not include those artificial wetlands intentionally created from nonwetland sites, including, but not limited to,irrigation and drainage ditches, grass-lined swales, canals, detention facilities, wastewater treatment facilities, farm ponds,and landscape amenities, or those wetlands created after July 1, 1990, that were unintentionally created as a result of theconstruction of a road, street, or highway. Wetlands may include those artificial wetlands intentionally created fromnonwetland areas to mitigate the conversion of wetlands.” [Note: The GMA and SMA focus on what IS NOT a wetland]The Congress only listed three types of wetland areas, those shown on the cover of this presentation,swamps, marshes, and bogs (and similar areas) Each of these features are very unique and are not common in the Puget Lowlands These have very different geomorphology, hydrology, vegetation, and soils and are also very unique; as arethe different habitat types. They all have one thing in common, water and in every case this water is associated with ground water,sometimes combined with surface water. However, other than water, what other similarities to “other features” have and how smiliar are they? Does the presence of water make these unique? Kettle Lakes are 100% ground water, but they are notwetlands and their functions and habitats are similar to wetlands, but they are “deep water habitats”. Puget Sound has the hydrology, but is it similar? How about the ocean? So what features, that are not deepwater habitats, have in common with swamps, marshes, and bogs?
Lakes as Wetland Areas?Look at the wetland mapsprepared by municipalities andyou will often see “lake fringe”wetlands (or that entire lake as awetland), however, mostoligotrophic (“clean lakes”) lakescannot have wetland hydrology.This is Shady Lake in Renton,Washington. King County showsmost of the lake to be a wetland.This lake is up to 60 feet deepand is an Oligotrophic lake.Wetland areas cannot bedeeper than 2 meters andbecause of the Corpsrequirements, just have aquicconditions. If this hydrology werepresent, all of the aquatic life inthis lake would die (aquicconditions require anaerobic andreducing conditions)
Why call these wetlands?Scientifically, there is technically no single feature that is a “wetland”, in reality,each of the features, including those mentioned by the Congress (bogs, swamps, andmarshes), is very different and many features that would fall into the “political orregulatory term”, wetland, do not occur in the Puget Lowlands (due to climate,parent material type, unique hydrological conditions, etc.). In fact, wetland areasare rare!Features such as bogs, do occur in the Puget Lowlands, but these are often limited to“relict glacial features” rather than those features most people would associatedwith a bog (peat bogs, cranberry bogs, etc.); however, similar features, Fens, do nottypically occur in the Puget Lowlands (these are usually associated with colderclimates, such as parts of Canada, where there are 1,000s of square miles of fens).Since the features that the congress was trying to protect (which is explained later)all have one thing in common, a lot of water saturating the soils at, near, or abovethe surface of the land, the congress (and others) dubbed these areas as being“wet” – lands; however, in reality, these should be called “saturated” – lands,because the requirement is that the soils be saturated and scientifically (Cowardian,1977) cannot be inundated with more than 2 meters of water (they become “deepwater habitats” when they are greater than 2 meters deep).
Why call these wetlands? (Cont.)All of the soils the NRCS has listed as being potential hydric soils are fine soils, relict “histosols”(which are not necessarily active), but generally identified as silty loams. Very fine soils havevery small pore spaces which make if very difficult for water to remove all of the air in thesepore spaces. As discussed later, saturated, “wetland” soils must be devoid of all air, must becompletely depleted of all oxygen, and must have developed a reducing environment (andenvironment where anaerobic bacteria thrive), because the Corps requires aquic conditionsto be present.So, in reality, “wetlands” are not wet, they must be saturated and it is difficult to saturatedfine soils, typically requiring enough “hydraulic head” (water pressure) to overcome oneatmosphere of pressure (760 mm Hg at sea level and standard temperatures). At sea levelthis would be equal to 10 meters of water, which, per the definition would be a deep waterhabitat, not a wetland (wetland areas cannot be more than 2 meters deep).The only hydrologic source that has enough pressure to fill the pore space in fine soils (which,in the Puget Lowlands, per the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) hydric soils list,account for 95% of the hydric soils) and not result in a deep water habitat, is ground waterwith enough hydraulic head to exceed one atmosphere in pressure, which is relatively commonin the Puget Lowlands due to the amount of topographic relief present and the altitude wheremuch of the ground water recharge (of the aquifers) occurs.Hydric soils and aquic conditions are NOT included in the regulatory definition for awetland for a good reason, both pertain to a special type of saturated soil conditions thatcan result in eliminating some actual wetland from being identified as regulated wetlands.
Unsaturated ZoneFlow v Ground Water FlowThe ground water aquiferis called the phreatic zone.It is a hydraulic system atone atmosphere ofpressure or greater,depending on the hydraulichead (relative to theelevation of the groundwater recharge areas)
Unsaturated ZoneFlow v Ground Water Flow (Cont.) From the U.S. EPA Infiltration Model Web Site
Aquic Conditions and Hydric Soils.Hydric soils require aquic conditions, which the NRCS defines as:Soils with aquic (L. aqua, water) conditions are those that currently undergo continuous orperiodic saturation and reduction.Aquic Conditions Saturation is characterized by zero or positive pressure in the soil water and can generallybe determined by observing free water in an unlined auger hole. Problems may arise,however, in clayey soils with peds, where an unlined auger hole may fill with water flowingalong faces of peds while the soil matrix is and remains unsaturated (bypass flow). Suchfree water may incorrectly suggest the presence of a water table, while the actual watertable occurs at greater depth. The duration of saturation required for creating aquic conditions varies, depending on thesoil environment, and is not specified. Aquic conditions are those of soil saturation where the ground water is anaerobic (free ofall dissolved oxygen) and where anaerobic bacteria can change the chemistry of theground water to “reducing” conditions (somewhat like a conventional septic system). Thisgreatly reduces the availability of soluble nutrients in the soil, and this combined withanaerobic ground water restricts the types of plants that will grow when these conditionsare present. Aquic conditions is NOT the same as saturated soil conditions! From the Keys to Soil Taxonomy, 11 th Edition, Soil Survey, 2010.
Long Enough?The CWA requires that the “soils be saturated long enough” (to support, and that under normalcircumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soilconditions). However, saturated soil conditions are NOT the same as aquic conditions (aquicconditions are rare as are wetlands).The NRCS, says “the time is undetermined” to develop aquic conditions. (There is no 14 day rule). There are a LOT of variables, including soil texture, the amount of organic materials that arepresent, the amount of other nutrients present, the characteristics of the water, and even temperatureto allow aquic conditions to develop. However, it is generally accepted that this process takes aLONG time to develop. When these conditions exist, the mineral and organic soils begin to change (if they have iron ormanganese in them) This change in the soils is called “hydric soil characteristics” by the NationalResource Conservation Service (NRCS) and the science of hydric soils, by code, is determined by theNational Technical Committee for Hydric Soils (NTCHS). The Corps made hydric soils an indicator for a wetland to allow them to make most of theirwetland determinations, desktop determinations. This assumes that the NRCS soils maps are100% accurate and that the NRCS hydric soils maps are also 100% accurate. However, the biggestassumption is that aquic conditions are actually present and the hydrogeomorphology is conduciveto developing these conditions. There are wetlands without aquic conditions! Hydric soils lists are not lists of soils that are automatically hydric, it is a list of soils that candevelop hydric soil characteristics if the required hydrology (Aquic conditions) andgeomorphology are present.
VegetationThe Congress also required vegetation in its definition of aregulatory wetland: a prevalence of vegetation typicallyadapted for life in saturated soil conditions. This means thatthe majority of the vegetation must be adapted to living insaturated soils, and by the Corps definition, to be saturatedlong enough, these soils must be anaerobic and havedeveloped reducing conditions (Aquic Conditions).The type of plants that live in saturated soils “must” haveadapted and the plants that have these adaptations arecalled hydrophytes. The next slide provides the Corpsdefinition for hydrophytes and the some of the requiredadaptations. It should be noted, that just because a planthas adapted for life in saturated soil conditions, does notmean it will survive in aquic conditions!
Wetland Plants?RED ALDER WESTERN RED CEDAR REED CANARYGRASSALL OF THESE QUALIFY AS“HYDROPHYTIC”WETLAND VEGETATION INTHE CORPS MANUALS,AND IF DOMINANT ,WOULD BE CONSIDEREDTO BE WETLANDINDICATORSSKUNK CABBAGE
HydrophytesThe following are the Corps of Engineers 1987 definitions for hydrophytes and theiradaptations:Hydrophyte - Any macrophyte that grows in water or on a substrate that is atleast periodically deficient in oxygen as a result of excessive water content; plantstypically found in wet habitats.Hydrophytic vegetation - The sum total of macrophytic plant life growing inwater or on a substrate that is at least periodically deficient in oxygen as a resultof excessive water content. When hydrophytic vegetation comprises a communitywhere indicators of hydric soils and wetland hydrology also occur, the area haswetland vegetation.Hypertrophied lenticels - An exaggerated (oversized) pore on the surface ofstems of woody plants through which gases are exchanged between the plant andthe atmosphere. The enlarged lenticels serve as a mechanism for increasing oxygento plant roots during periods of inundation and/or saturated soils.This means that only plants (what we consider to be plants, e.g., trees, shrubs, andherbs or scientific term, macrophytic) with adaptations can survive in wetlandhydrology and soils and these plants are called hydrophytes.
Examples of Adaptations
What do the Codes Require?The codes (Federal and State) require: a prevalence ofvegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditionsThis means actual wetland hydrology can be ignored and awetland can only be identified if the plants that are presentare true hydrophytes, right?NO. The Corps has decided to forgo this part of theCongress’ requirements, it has also not met the Congress’requirements for up to date accurate plant data that isregion specific and the Corps refuses to require wetlandscientists to demonstrate that the vegetation has thenecessary adaptations to be considered to be a truehydrophyte.
Other Adaptations Physiological Adaptations
What do the Codes Require?What does the Corps determine to be a wetland plant? All ofthem, except two, FACU and Upland plants, this means that most ofthe plants commonly found in the Puget Lowlands are considered tobe wetland plants by the Corps of Engineers (OBL – FAC), when inreality the only plants that should be in that category are truehydrophytes adapted to living in aquic conditions, which would bespecific types of OBL plants and even some of these do not belong,because they are not rooted in soil or cannot survive in anaerobicand reducing conditions.The Corps only requires the use of a list of plants, prepared byReed et al (1988), not a physiological examination of the plantsto determine if the adaptations required are present.Why does the Corps ignore Best Available Science and why doesthe Corps bias the vegetation so that virtually 80% of the species inthe Puget Lowlands are considered to be wetland vegetation?
What do the Codes Require? (Cont.) It is not science the Corps (or Ecology) focus on, or thedesire to do what the Congress told them to do, it ispolitics, because the goal is “no net loss ofwetlands”, which is placed above citizen’s constitutionalrights. Technically this invalidates any scientific interpretationof vegetation in a wetland delineation and makes thisinformation worthless (scientifically) and eliminates theneed for a biologist, considering this interpretation hasno meaning if it is not scientifically valid.
Soil Color as an Indicator?Soil color alone is notconclusive, using theNTCHS methods fordetermining if a soilhas developed hydricsoil characteristics.This is taken from the2010, Version 7, ofthe “Field Indicators”Manual.
Hydrology and Soils?Since the Corps has chosen to ignore the science and introduce bias to thewetland delineation process, technically using sound scientific principals, thewetland vegetation indicator should be disregarded, however, this is notallowed and the wetland delineator is forced to identify non-hydrophytesas hydrophytes (wetland vegetation).This means that the only two of the Corps required indicators that arescientifically “unbiased”; the soils and the hydrology, if you follow theNTCHS protocols, not the Corps protocols. However, the Code (definitionfor a wetland) DOES NOT require hydric soils or aquic conditions to bepresent, only saturated soil conditions!However, in order to determine that a regulated wetland area is present,the delineator must find that all three “wetland indicators” are present, apreponderance of hydrophytic vegetation, wetland hydrology, and wetlandsoils. If any of these three are missing a wetland cannot be identified.Additionally, under the provisions of the GMA and SMA there are othercriteria that must be considered before a wetland can be identified, even ifall three indicators are present.
“The unfortunate truth”Many non-wetland areas are identified as wetland areas, often due to the inexperience ofthe wetland delineator regarding soils and hydrology. Also, although they are not allowed toidentify streams by state law, many wetland scientists do, and they frequently misidentify thesefeatures.Technically the study of soils and wetland hydrology, which is ground water hydrology, requirea license to study in the State of Washington, per: Chapter 18.220 RCW, Chapter 308-15WAC, and Chapter 18.235 RCW. This has been required since 2002, but all cities andwetland scientists ignore this. Even the geologist licensing board continues to ignore thisproblem. The studies required to identify streams are 100% geologic studies, yet licensingrequirements continue to be ignored.However, there is no real requirements for anyone who conducts wetland studies in any law inthis State nor is there a federal law that lists who can conduct these studies (except geologistlicenses, including the specialty license of hydrogeology), unless the property owner conductsthe study themselves. In Island County, property owners can conduct their own studies andwetland ratings!SNR is in the process of developing a property owner wetland form that is fair and canprovide a basic wetland determination for other municipalities to use.
Typical Wetland Report by WetlandScientistThis is the ENTIRE reportthat Island County used tocommence code violationenforcement and is whatIsland County has used torefute SNR’s 142 pagehydrogeomorphologicReport (including streamstudies). SNR did not findany streams or wetlands onthe property, Island Countyrefuses to accept SNR’sreport because of areview made by Ecologythat states that SNR’sreport did not followmanual requirements (it did– however, unlike mostwetland reports, SNR’s is ahydrogeologic andgeologic report that isbased on a comprehensivestudy
Wetland Hydrology and MisconceptionsSoil does not become saturated easily and different soils will become saturatedmore easily than others.Under normal conditions, the soil pore space is filled with air and in some casessmall quantities of water (especially in finer soils).The air in the pore space is not easy to displace, especially in finer soils and thepolar nature of water molecules creates “surface tension” that can be very difficultto overcome (displace). This is why boiling water creates bubbles. The watercompletely envelops the “steam” (a gas), creating “pockets” of “air” that is noteasily displaced in the small pore space of silty loams.To completely displace the air in the soil pore space and overcome the surfacetension, the water must have a pressure greater than one atmosphere (1 Bar). Thisis the definition for a saturated soil from the State of Washington WetlandsIdentification and Delineation Manual, Ecology, 1997:“Saturated soil conditions - A condition in which all easily drained voids (pores between soilparticles in the root zone are temporarily or permanently filled with water to the soil surfaceat pressures greater than atmospheric.”
Wetland Hydrology andMisconceptions (Cont.)It is unusual for soils to become saturated on slopes becauseit is easier for surface and interstitial pore water to followthe path of least resistance (especially in fine soils).It is also unusual for areas that are not continuouslyinundated for long periods of time (including inundationfrom ground water). The State of Washington WetlandsRating Manual for Western Washington suggests it takes atleast two months of continuous inundation to createsaturated, anaerobic conditions.Soil that is saturated by ground water and develops hydricsoils is considered to be an “aquic moisture regime” by theNRCS.
Wetland Hydrology andMisconceptions (Cont.)The State of Washington Wetlands Identification and Delineation Manual,Ecology, 1997 (State Manual), states:Hydrology is often the least exact of the parameters, and indicators ofwetland hydrology are sometimes difficult to find in the field. However, it isessential to establish that a wetland area is periodically inundated or hassaturated soils for a sufficient duration during the growing season.”Hydrology, or in the case of wetlands, hydrogeology, is not difficult if theappropriate studies are conducted, by hydrogeologists (in this state alicense is required) and hydrogeologic studies are the MOST accurate fordetermining if saturated soil conditions are present.However, most wetland studies that are conducted by wetland scientists,who are NOT licensed hydrogeologists, are routine studies, that do notinclude the level of study required to properly define the hydrology(including ground water – hydrogeology) of the site.
Wetland Hydrology andMisconceptions (Cont.)Wet soils are NOT the same as saturated soils.Side seeps into test pits may not be an indicator of ground water, thesemay be unsaturated zone preferential or bypass flows, especially in finesoils or in layered soils such as soils formed on relict deltas.The glistening test for saturated soils is not accurate, there are other provenscientific methods to determine if a soil is saturated. Saturated soils areunder pressure, if the soil is a sand, it will be a liquid suspension and thetest pit will not stay open.Observations of standing water does not necessarily mean that an area haswetland hydrology and in most cases in the Puget Lowlands, it is NOT anindicator of saturated soil conditions, unless the ground water is alreadypresent at or very near the soil surface.Vegetation CANNOT be used for determining wetland hydrology in thePuget Lowlands of Western Washington. The hydrology determines whatplants will be present (with the required adaptations, not the other wayaround)
Hydric SoilsThe field indicators are to be used to delineatehydric soils. The soil on the right is hydric; the Indicator S6(Stripped Matrix) starts at a depth of about 14 cm. The soil onthe left is nonhydricIndicator A11 (Depleted Below Dark Surface). This indicator is similar toF3 (Depleted Matrix). Because darker colored surface horizons implymore wetness, A11 indicates hydric conditions if the depletedmatrix occurs within 30 cm of the soil surface, whereas F3 indicateshydric conditions if the depleted matrix occurs within 25 cm of the soilsurface.
What are Hydric Soils?The NRCS has defined hydric soils as: “A hydric soil is a soil that formed under conditions of saturation, flooding or ponding long enoughduring the growing season to develop anaerobic conditions in the upper part.”If soils with hydric soil characteristics are present, this suggests that the soils have beensaturated for periods long enough for wetland hydrology to be considered to be present.However, the soils must not be relict hydric soils.The manuals require that active hydric soils be identified in an areas before it can bedetermined the area is a wetland.The State Manual and USACE Manual describe a simple methods that does not requireknowledge of soils or geology to identify hydric soils using the Munsell color to determine if asoil has developed hydric soil characteristics, this is the least accurate method for identifyinghydric soils in the Puget Lowlands and DOES not meet the requirements in the NTCHSdocuments for identifying hydric soils (using color alone).SNR uses the NRCS “Field Indictors of Hydric Soils in the United States, A Guide forIdentifying and Delineating Hydric Soils, Version, 7.0, 2010”, “Keys to Soil Taxonomy”, 11 thEdition, 2010, and “Soil Taxonomy A Basic System of Soil Classification for Making andInterpreting Soil Surveys”, 2 nd Edition, 1999 to identify soils that may have developed hydricsoil characteristics.
What are Hydric Soils? (Cont.)A soil that does not meet the requirements forIndicator S6 (Stripped Matrix) because thesplotches are distinct rather than diffuse.
What are Hydric Soils? (Cont.)Many of the soils in the Puget Lowlands that are not hydric soils have Munsell colorsthat have low “values” and “chromas”, because their parent material is naturallydark (basalts and andesites).All Puget Lowland soils are young (11,000 years old or less) and many may havedeveloped hydric soil characteristics during the last glacial recession, which meansthese soils are relict hydric soils that will have most of the characteristics of modernday active hydric soils, except relict soils will have a distinct clear or wavy contactand active hydric soils will have a diffuse contact.Redoximorphic features (mottles) are easily misinterpreted, especially in disturbedsoils where “E” soil horizons (which can also be misinterpreted as being “gleyed”hydric soils) can be mixed with “A” soil horizon soils. Additionally, oxidation can bemisinterpreted as a current feature when it is really a relict feature, this is why thismust be observed in root casts and macropores that are recent features.Histosols are rare and are among the most misinterpreted hydric soils because thewetland delineator did not conduct studies that focused on the hydrology and thesoils under the “organic soils”. Histosols are only formed in aquic moisture regimeswhich is also rare (except in kettle ponds) and are often confused with forest litter,duff, and humus.
What are Hydric Soils?Soil color alone will notprovide an accuratedetermination of hydricsoils. The hydrology isthe MOST importantrequirement for hydricsoils to be present.The Munsell color chartis based on humanobservations and notwo humans see colorthe same, especially indifferent lighting.Soil moisture plays a majorrole in the intensity of thecolor (chroma) this is why thecolor must be for moist soil,however, there is no scientificway to determine what ismoist in the field and theamount of water required tomake a soil moist isundefined, so the color canvary with the amount ofmoistness (the color of wetand saturated soils,especially fine soils cannotbe identified in the fieldbecause there is not way todry these soils to moist in thefield.
Properly Identifying Soils is ComplexSoils from the Auburn Valley area– Lahar deposits overlying theOsceola mudflow. These samplesare as much as 100% basalt,which naturally has a Munsell®Color (dry) of 10YR 2/1. Thesesoils are unaltered, and there isno evidence of any reduction orthat these soils have beensaturated long enough to developwetland conditions (unalteredmeans there is no formation ofany hydric soils characteristics).However, the Corps haspreviously determined that theseare hydric soils based on desktoproutine studies.
Photomicrographs of SoilsThese are the same laharsoils under highmagnification, that show thehigh concentration of purebasalt and sharp crystalcontacts, with no evidence ofany alteration of theminerals, which wetlandscientists have determined tobe “hydric soils” (and withoutstating their type) based oncolor alone. Scientificstudies, however, indicatethat these are not hydric soilsof any kind.
Case Study Wetland near Duvall, WAThe property is onOld Woodinville –Duvall Road and hashad wetlands andstreams delineatedon it by wetlandscientists and KingCounty DDES.SNR did not findwetlands or streams,but our studies didfind something elsethat represents amajor RCRA violationand impact to waterquality of BearCreek.
Wetlands and Stream Identified byWetland Scientist and KC DDES
1998 Air Photograph of SubjectProperty and Vicinity
August 2011 Air Photograph ofSubject Property and Vicinity
WDFW SalmonScape Map
WDNR Geologic Map of Area
Ecology Listing for Landfill
Photograph of Seeps
Shaded Relief Map showing Landfill,Seeps and Seep Flow
Wetland or RCRA Regulated?The landfill and the leachate are regulated under federal code: The ResourceConservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and under state codes.King County knows the leachate is “disappearing”, they hauled millions of gallonsper year until the inadequate leachate collection system was damaged (when theywent to zero leachate collected).This is NOT wetland hydrology, but it shows how wetland scientists not only get thehydrology wrong, they got it completely wrong and did not recognize a majorenvironmental impact, much more significant than a wetland or a stream (theyidentified the leachate flows as stream flow).The leachate still impacts this property and King County still believes there arewetlands and a stream on this site.This is NOT uncommon, SNR frequently finds the “wetland hydrology” is frommanmade sources, including raw sewage from municipal sewer systems, frommunicipal separate storm sewer systems diverted onto private property, and fromother manmade sources and none of these result in saturated soils conditions, but allhave been determined to be wetlands and in many cases, streams (and ponds).This why hydrologic, hydrogeologic, and soils studied DO require geologist andspecialty geologist licenses, but Ecology and wetland scientists ignore this.