EPA Releases Document Designed To Improve Wetlands Monitoring Programs

States and tribes have a new resource to help them develop consistent programs to improve wetland monitoring. A new document, released on April 20 by EPA, outlines critical elements that monitoring programs should include.

"Application of Elements of a State Water Monitoring and Assessment Program for Wetlands," is a follow-up publication to EPA's 2003 document, "Elements of a State Water Monitoring and Assessment Program." The previous document serves as a tool to help EPA and states determine whether a monitoring program meets the requirements of Clean Water Act Section 106(e)(1).

The new release describes the 10 recommended elements of a wetland monitoring and assessment program, including a program strategy, monitoring objectives and design, and data management. It further describes wetland-specific assessment approaches available to states and tribes.

The purpose of the document is to increase the understanding of wetland quality by advancing the practice of wetlands monitoring and assessment. It provides information and illustrations of assessment approaches unique to wetlands while reiterating the basic structure of a monitoring program that includes wetlands.

A monitoring and assessment program that is built using the elements in the document will be able to provide managers the information necessary to report on the condition of state wetlands, according to EPA. That information, in turn, can be used to prioritize wetland-management activities, such as protection, restoration and compensatory mitigation. State implementation of these elements will be an iterative process that is completed over several years. Progress made on one element of activity will influence and advance work being conducted on the other elements, the agency stated.

The new guidance and more information about wetlands monitoring can be found at http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/monitor. The 2003 document can be accessed at http://www.epa.gov/owow/monitoring/elements.