Those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas.

Wetlands cover 1.4%, or 404,000 acres, of the land area in Pennsylvania. Wetlands serve many important functions including flood control, water filtration and habitat for threatened species. Over half of Pennsylvania's existing wetlands have been lost in the past 200 years. As such, wetlands are highly valued and regulated. 

Find out if there may be wetlands on your property with the US Fish and Wildlife Service National Wetlands Inventory mapper.


How are wetlands regulated?

Section 404 of the Clean Water Act requires that anyone interested in depositing dredged or fill material into "waters of the United States, including wetlands," must receive authorization for such activities. The Army Corps of Engineers has been assigned responsibility for administering the Section 404 permitting process.
The PA DEP receives jurisdiction over wetlands through multiple state statutes:

  • Dam Safety and Encroachments Act, Act 325 of 1978
  • Floodplain Management Act, Act 166 of 1978
  • Chapter 105 Dam Safety and Waterways Management
  • Chapter 106 Floodplain Management
• Placement of fill material.
• Ditching activities when the excavated material is sidecast.
• Levee and dike construction.
• Mechanized land clearing.
• Land leveling.
• Most road construction.
• Dam construction.