Building Near Wetland 101

building near a wetland

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When building a new construction it’s important to not only look at the land on which you will be building but also at the land around it. If you are building near a wetland, it is important to know the specifics of what you can and can’t do along with how to go about getting a permit. As wetlands are usually protected it can be difficult to start a new build that is too close to the wetland ecosystem.


Wetland is important. The Environment of Protection Agency ( The EPA) defines wetlands as “areas where water covers the solid or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year” Essentially, a wetland is an area that is wet all year round or for long periods of times throughout the year. A wetland is an ecosystem and because of this, they play an essential role in the environment. 


There are two types of wetlands that are most commonly encountered when purchasing or looking to build on the land.


  1. Coastal/tidal wetlands: these, as their name suggests are found along the Atlantic, Pacific, Alaskan, and Gulf coasts.
  2. Inland/non-tidal wetlands: these are found around rivers or streams. 


While there other types of wetlands these are the two that you will most likely see when purchasing or building on the land.


Do you need a permit to build near Wetland?

If you notice that the land you wish to build on is near a wetland the first thing you should do is speak with an environmental consultant. This person will be able to survey the area and will have the training to identify plant communities that may prefer wet soils and other factors. You can also use the wetlands mapper tool to help you research your area. To be on the safe side, we would recommend going the consultant route.


Based on the consultants’ recommendations you will most likely need to obtain a permit to move forward with the building. If your new build will only impact half an acre or less of non-tidal wetland, you can look into the nationwide permitting process which is a little easier than going through the typical process with the US Army Corps of Engineers. 


The process of obtaining a permit for building near a wetland is long. Even after obtaining a permit, you may run into issues with water management around your building. 



What are the benefits of building near a wetland?

With the process of getting a permit being extremely time-consuming and daunting, why would people even want to build near a wetland? Well, there are certainly a few pros in our mind.


  • Privacy – Wetlands offer a high amount of privacy which to some is a huge plus.
  • Wildlife – This will vary based on your likes and dislikes but many people who do choose to build near wetlands do so because of the wildlife they will see. 
  • Investment – luxury properties that are close to wetlands in a well-connected urban area have a very high probability of appreciation when it comes to money. 


In Rhode Island alone, wetland takes up over 16% of the state which is pretty high compared to other parts of the US. So regardless if you plan to soak in the nature near the lake or not, it is important to understand the rules and regulations in your area.