A Guide to the Data Query Program
DEQ provides information on nontidal wetlands management in Virginia and the results of that management on the state's nontidal wetland resources. This site is the result of a cooperative effort between the Virginia Institute of Marine Science's Wetlands Program, DEQ, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region III office. This site was designed to assist resource managers, academicians, students, politicians and the general public in the areas of research, education, environmental management and policy, and general curiosities about human impacts on nontidal wetlands in Virginia.
Listed below is the background information associated with this page and the data query program. It is our hope that you find the information here interesting and useful. We ask that you read Data Collection Methods and Data Description prior to querying and viewing the data. The information contained there will help you more fully understand the summary data. We also ask that you return to this site periodically to take advantage of data updates and added information.
Data Collection Methods
Virginia nontidal wetlands data are collected and managed through the DEQ-administered Virginia Water Protection Permit Program. The VWPP Program regulates impacts to state waters, including wetlands. This permit program also serves as Virginia's Section 401 certification program for federal Section 404 permits. All Joint Permit Applications (JPA) are critically reviewed by approximately 24 permit managers working in eight offices across Virginia. Through the review process, the VWPP Program permit managers verify documentation provided by applicants that quantifies the areal extent of wetlands losses (impacts) by Cowardin Classification for each proposed project. Prior to DEQ review of the impact documentation of projects within its jurisdiction, the applicant must obtain an independent verification of wetland boundaries from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District Office.
Nontidal wetland classification systems and regulatory programs are complex. A general understanding of these are necessary to design specific queries and understand the summary data. The definitions and descriptions of the available data categories are explained below. Familiarity with each category and its components is necessary to accurately interpret and understand the data summaries.
The generally accepted method of classifying nontidal wetlands into descriptive categories is outlined in Classification of Wetlands and Deepwater Habitats of the United States, and is commonly referred to as the "Cowardin classification" in honor of the primary author. This hierarchical system uses ecology-based principles of community and arranges these separate classified communities into a simple and consistent system useful in management and research efforts.
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) uses two categories of permit types in their regulatory program - general and individual. These categories are based on the level of potential adverse impacts to wetland resources. General permit authorizations are issued for activities which have potentially minor environmental consequences and do not require a public notice process. The general permit authorizations allow use of the general permit regulations to cover the proposed activities. Currently there are four general permit regulations: WP1 (Impacts Less Than One-Half Acre), WP2 (Facilities and Activities of Utility and Public Service Companies Regulated by the Federal Energy Commission or the State Corporation Commission and Other Utility Line Activities), WP3 (Linear Transportation Projects), and WP4 (Impacts from Development and Certain Mining Activities). Individual Permits require a full public notice process, since the conditions applicable to the permit change based on the proposed activities.
In addition to the specific Virginia localities, nontidal wetland losses by physiographic province are also provided. Each locality was assigned to one of three physiographic provinces: coastal plain, piedmont or mountain. The mountain province is also commonly referred to as "ridge and valley," or divided into the Blue Ridge and Appalachian provinces. The collective category is used here for simplicity. A few localities were bisected by the geologic boundaries between provinces. In these cases, the localities were assigned to a single province. The criterion for placement in a province was based on landscape position. Localities sharing relatively equal areas of the piedmont and coastal plain geology were placed in the coastal plain if any part of the locality bordered tidal waters. Localities sharing piedmont and mountain geology were placed in the province which accounted for a majority of the land area. The member localities of each physiographic province are listed below.
Accomack, Arlington, Caroline, Charles City, Chesapeake, Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, Essex, Fairfax, Fredericksburg, Gloucester, Hampton, Henrico, Hopewell, Hanover, Isle of Wight, James City, King and Queen, King George, King William, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex, New Kent, Newport News, Norfolk, Northampton, Northumberland, Petersburg, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Prince George, Prince William, Richmond, City of Richmond, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Suffolk, Surry, Sussex, Southampton, Virginia Beach, Westmoreland, Williamsburg, and York.
Albemarle, Amelia, Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, Brunswick, Buckingham, Campbell, Charlotte, Culpeper, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Fauquier, Fluvanna, Franklin, Goochland, Greene, Greensville, Halifax, Henry, Loudoun, Louisa, Lunenburg, Madison, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Nelson, Orange, Prince Edward, Pittsylvania, Powhatan, and Rappahannock.
Alleghany, Augusta, Bath, Bland, Botetourt, Buchanan, Carroll, Clarke, Craig, Dickinson, Floyd, Fredrick, Giles, Grayson, Highland, Lee, Montgomery, Patrick, Pulaski, Page, Roanoke, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Russell, Scott, Shenandoah, Smyth, Tazewell Warren, Washington, Wise, and Wythe.
Summaries are provided for nontidal wetland losses and for compensatory mitigation required as a condition of the DEQ permit. Compensatory mitigation (termed "compensation" on the data query page and summary output) is a regulatory instrument used to offset unavoidable wetland, stream, and open water losses associated with permitted projects. Compensatory mitigation can include any one or combination of the following: creation, restoration, the purchase or use of mitigation bank credits, or a contribution to an approved in-lieu fee fund. Preservation of wetlands, or preservation or restoration of upland buffers adjacent to state waters, may be acceptable when utilized in conjunction with creation, restoration or mitigation bank credits. Data in the compensation summary include combined acres from on-site and off-site creation, enhancement, preservation, restoration, and wetlands bank credits. Payments to the Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund (Fund) are not included in the compensation summary category. This Fund was created to provide flexibility in wetlands mitigation requirements through restoration and preservation of natural wetlands in Virginia, and is the result of a memorandum of understanding between The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. For more information on this program please contact Greg Culpepper, Fund Administrator, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, at (757) 441-7655.
Design a Data Query
The link below will allow you to design your own data request by year, Cowardin classification, permit category, and location. Results are presented in tabular form and display losses and compensatory mitigation of nontidal wetlands in acres.
Query DEQ Nontidal Wetlands Data
Disclaimer and Copyright Information
Use information here at your own risk. This web page presents the results of an ongoing cooperative project between the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. To the best of our knowledge the data and information collected and managed by the DEQ, and available from this web site, are complete and accurate. However, the completeness and accuracy cannot be guaranteed due to the numerous sources of information and the large number of people involved in Virginia nontidal wetlands regulatory programs.
Copyright 2002, Wetlands Program, Center for Coastal Resources Management, Virginia Institute of Marine Science
A Review of Nontidal Wetland Projects and Impacts in Virginia 1991-1993 displays data in graphic and tabular form and presents yearly square foot impacts by Cowardin classification, physiographic province and locality. Other related information is also included such as relative levels of impact categories and permit reviews by locality.
VIMS Home Page will link you to information about the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, School of Marine Science of the College of William and Mary.
The Data Query Program was funded through the EPA Wetlands Protection - State Development Grant Program.