MDEQ Revises Wetland Determination Rules

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has promulgated revisions to its rules on determining whether a property contains wetlands. Under the revised rules, wetland determinations are now called "assessments." The revised rules also make technical changes and updates and establish fees for MDEQ to perform wetland assessments requested by landowners or lessees under Part 303 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.

The amendments establish three levels of wetland assessments and corresponding fees. Under the first level of assessment, for a fee of $50, MDEQ will review and provide copies of certain readily available wetlands information regarding an identified area, including state and federal maps that show the approximate location of wetlands on a property. The rules state that, although such maps may be useful for planning purposes, because they are not based on an on-site review MDEQ will not certify where wetlands are and are not specifically located on the given parcel.

Under the second level of assessment, for a fee of $200 for one acre or less, MDEQ will perform an on-site assessment of a specified, flagged, and otherwise identifiable area to identify and describe areas that are and are not wetlands on the site. The fee increases by $50 an acre for larger sites. If MDEQ determines that area(s) on the parcel are not wetlands, MDEQ's report will state that MDEQ lacks jurisdiction over such area(s) and that this determination is binding on MDEQ for three years.

Under the third level of assessment, for a fee of $150 for one acre or less, MDEQ will perform an on-site review of a specified, flagged, and otherwise identifiable area to confirm specific boundaries established by a professional wetland consultant between wetland and non-wetland areas. The fee for this service increases by $15 an acre for larger sites.

For a more comprehensive discussion of the rule revisions, see the January 1998 Michigan Environmental Compliance Update, p. l..
This article was prepared by Kenneth C. Gold, a partner in our Environmental Department, and previously appeared in the July, 1998 edition of the Michigan Environmental Compliance Update, a monthly newsletter prepared by the Environmental Department and published by M. Lee Smith Publishers.

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