Surface Waters Wetlands

Surface Waters include rivers, stream, lakes, ponds and other bodies of water easily seen or accessed above ground. Wetlands are areas of the land surface where soils are saturated for extended periods during the growing season or flooded during all or part of most years. They also are characterized by plant growth that has adapted to these saturated or flooded conditions. Many wetlands are seasonal, meaning that standing water is present only during a portion of every year. Wetlands provide important wildlife habitat (see Section 5.1). State and federal agencies have specific definitions for wetlands. While these definitions differ slightly, they often reference one or some combination of the following three parameters, which are described in the impacts section: vegetation, hydrology, and soils. They are generally distinguished from deepwater habitats by the depth of standing water. Wetlands are those areas inundated by less than six feet of water.

The USACE definition of "waters of the United States" includes surface waters that are navigable and their tributaries, all interstate waters and their tributaries, natural lakes, all wetlands adjacent to these waters, and all impoundments of these waters.

Wetlands are often associated with surface waters. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) definition of waters of the United States includes surface waters that are navigable and their tributaries, all interstate waters and their tributaries, natural lakes, all wetlands adjacent to these waters, and all impoundments of these waters. Section 4.1.4.3 provides additional information on the USACE and the regulations and legal considerations that apply to water resources, including recent court cases that have addressed USACE wetland jurisdiction. Similarly many states also recognize the importance of surface waters and protect not only interstate waters but also local waters occurring wholly within their states.

Because of their importance, surface waters and wetlands are subject to special federal, state, and local protections as described in Section 4.1.4. As with development projects in general, wind energy facilities may result in unavoidable impacts to regulated surface waters and wetlands and will need specific approvals and special conditions to minimize environmental impacts. Unavoidable impacts may also require creation of new wetlands as compensation, which is discussed further under mitigation.

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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