Language Translation
  Close Menu

Frequently Asked Questions

This page provides basic information regarding the scope of IDEM's State Regulated Wetland Permitting Program. It is intended to answer basic questions and frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding IDEM's authority, regulated activities, and other information concerning the program's implementation. Since this is an overview, we recommend that you contact IDEM program staff if you have project-specific questions or other questions not specifically addressed on this page.

How do the changes in federal regulations affect the State Regulated Wetland Permitting process?

The key to implementation of the regulatory requirements (both federal 401/404 and State Regulated Wetland) for projects that add dredged or fill material to waters is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) determination of whether impacted waters are federally jurisdictional or Waters of the United States (WOTUS).

The USACE’s most recent (2008) guidance on making jurisdictional determinations (JDs) using the pre-2015 WOTUS regulatory regime is available online.

This change (reversion to pre-2015) WOTUS makes it even more imperative for project proponents to get a jurisdictional determination (JD) from the USACE to ensure the appropriate regulations are applied and correct permits/certifications are received prior to impacting waters with dredged or fill material. For JDs that identify waters of the state, coordination with IDEM is highly recommended so wetland classifications and exemptions may be verified.

With a jurisdictional determination from the USACE, IDEM will:

  • For a water of the United States, continue to apply the EPA/Corps federal requirements to process an application for 401 WQC.
  • For a water of the State, continue to apply the requirements of the State Regulated Wetland Law, including the changes made with SEA 389.

What is the purpose of IDEM State Regulated Wetland Permits?

Applicants proposing an impact to a “state regulated wetland,” which is a wetland that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has determined to be a non-federally jurisdictional wetland, are required to apply for an obtain State Regulated Wetland Permit from IDEM. State regulated wetland permits are required under Indiana’s State Regulated Wetland Law (Indiana Code 13-18-22 and 327 Indiana Administrative Code 17).

Issuance of State regulated wetland permits from IDEM means that IDEM anticipates that an applicant’s project will comply with state law, water quality standards and other aquatic resource protection requirements under IDEM’s authority.

What types of activities require an IDEM State Regulated Wetland Permit?

You need to apply for, and receive, an IDEM State Regulated Wetland Permit if you are planning any of the following:

  • Filling a state regulated wetland
  • Excavating a state regulated wetland
  • Mechanical clearing in a state regulated wetland (using heavy equipment such as bulldozers to remove or clear trees and stumps)
  • Constructing a pond in a state regulated wetland
  • Dredging a state regulated wetland
  • Dredging or excavation any potentially contaminated sediments from a state regulated wetland

This list is NOT all-inclusive. There are other activities that trigger the need for State regulated wetland permits but the aforementioned activities are common.

How do I know if I have wetlands on my property/project site?

Wetlands do not have to have standing water in them in order to be regulated by IDEM or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Determining the boundaries of wetlands is a task that must be conducted by a qualified wetland consultant. Wetlands are delineated by carefully examining a site for the presence of wetland indicators. In order to be a legal wetland, an area must have all three of the following present:

  • A dominance of wetland vegetation
  • The presence of soils exhibiting hydric characteristics
  • Indicators of hydrology (the presence of surface water or waterlogged soils) for a sufficient period of time in most years to influence the types of plants and soils that occur in that area

In order to know if wetlands are on your property, you must hire a wetland or environmental consultant to conduct a wetland delineation on the property. The wetland consultant will put together a report for you, called a wetland delineation report. This report must be submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for review and approval before the delineation report is considered accurate and legal. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has the responsibility of making wetland determinations and determining the limits of federal jurisdiction. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will write a letter to you once they have reviewed your wetland delineation report – this letter will state the jurisdiction of the delineated wetlands and will also state whether or not the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concurs with the delineation. Keep this letter, and your wetland delineation report, in a safe place as you will need to submit a copy of both to IDEM when you apply for permits.  Wetland delineations and approved jurisdictional determinations are valid for a period of five years.

How do I hire an environmental/wetland consultant?

IDEM can provide you with a list of environmental consultants who work in Indiana. The consultants included on this list are not recommendations of IDEM. Specifically, IDEM makes no endorsement or representation of any qualifications or lack of qualifications by any of the attached individuals or companies. Any firm that asks to be included is included without review of qualifications. You should investigate these businesses similar to any other service or establishment that you would deal with. When interviewing consultants, you should carefully evaluate their qualifications. IDEM has put together the following suggestions to help you make a selection:

  • Check credentials: If you are looking for someone to help identify and locate wetlands, find out whether or not the consultant has a good background in hydrology, soil science, ecology, and (especially important) botany (plant identification). The consultant you select should have the ability to apply wetland identification methods required by state and federal agencies. Make sure that the consultant can identify wetlands and their boundaries consistent with regulating agencies.
  • Make sure the consultant is knowledgeable: Is the wetland consultant familiar with local, state, and federal wetland regulations? Is this wetland consultant experienced with IDEM and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers? Another way to ask this: Does the consultant or individual know the project managers at IDEM and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by name?
  • Examine workmanship: Ask the wetland consultant for examples of previous work similar to the services you are requesting. What type of track record does this company or individual have with local, state, and federal agencies? Request references that include clients who have had projects reviewed and approved by IDEM. Check all references.
  • Ask others: Ask colleagues and other businesses, such as real estate, development, homebuilders, etc. that are routinely involved in wetland concerns. Ask them about their experiences and knowledge regarding the wetland consultant you are considering.

What is the difference between State Regulated Wetlands and Federally Jurisdictional Wetlands?

Once you have hired a wetland consultant to determine if your property has wetlands, the wetland consultant will, after studying the site, put together a report for you called a wetland delineation report. This wetland delineation report must be submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for review and approval before the delineation report is considered accurate and legal. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has the responsibility of making wetland determinations and determining the limits of federal jurisdiction. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will write a letter to you once they have reviewed your wetland delineation report – this letter will state the jurisdiction of the delineated wetlands and will also state whether or not the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concurs with the delineation.

Wetlands are considered by the USACE to be either “federally jurisdictional” or “isolated” which may be “state regulated.”

Federally jurisdictional wetlands are wetlands that abut or are adjacent to a federally regulated stream, lake, river, or other Water of the U.S. Waters of the U.S. are defined in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 CFR 230.3(s). Impacts to federally jurisdictional wetlands are regulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Impacts to federally regulated wetlands are also regulated by IDEM.

"Isolated wetlands", for purposes of IC 13-18, are defined by state law as those wetlands that are not subject to regulation under Section 404(a) of the Federal Clean Water Act. Since 2004, IDEM has regulated “isolated” wetlands under Indiana’s State Regulated Wetlands Law (IC 13-18-22). Indiana’s State Regulated Wetlands Law creates a category of waters of the state known as state regulated wetlands. A state regulated wetland is defined as an isolated wetland located in Indiana that is not an exempt isolated wetland. This law establishes a classification system for wetlands,  general permits, exemption criteria, and individual permitting authority for IDEM to regulate the placement of dredged or fill material into non-exempt state regulated wetlands. Any activity that would result in a discharge to a non-exempt state regulated wetland is regulated by IDEM under IC 13-18-22.

How do I contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers?

There are three (3) districts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers located in Indiana.

  • The Louisville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers covers much of the state except for several northern counties which are covered by the Chicago and Detroit districts.
  • The Chicago District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers covers a small portion of northwest Indiana primarily associated with the drainage area of Lake Michigan.
  • The Detroit District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers covers the remaining northern portions of the state.

Information and jurisdictional maps related to each U.S. Army Corps of Engineers District is available on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers page.

What are the different types of state regulated wetlands?

By law, Indiana’s isolated wetlands are defined as being a Class I, Class II, or Class III wetland; these definitions are listed in Indiana Code 13-11-2-25.8.

For purposes of IC 13-18:

  • "Class I wetland" means an isolated wetland described by one (1) or both of the following:
    1. At least fifty percent (50%) of the wetland has been disturbed or affected by human activity or development by one (1) or more of the following:
      1. Removal or replacement of the natural vegetation.
      2. Modification of the natural hydrology.
    2. The wetland supports only minimal wildlife or aquatic habitat or hydrologic function because the wetland does not provide critical habitat for threatened or endangered species listed in accordance with the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and the wetland is characterized by at least one (1) of the following:
      1. The wetland is typified by low species diversity.
      2. The wetland contains greater than fifty percent (50%) areal coverage of non native invasive species of vegetation.
      3. The wetland does not support significant wildlife or aquatic habitat.
      4. The wetland does not possess significant hydrologic function.
  • "Class II wetland" means an isolated wetland that supports moderate habitat or hydrological functions, including an isolated wetland that is dominated by native species but is generally without:
    1. the presence of; or
    2. habitat for: rare, threatened, or endangered species; and
  • "Class III wetland" means an isolated wetland:
    1. That is located in a setting undisturbed or minimally disturbed by human activity or development and that supports more than minimal wildlife or aquatic habitat or hydrologic function; or
    2. that is of one (1) of the following rare and ecologically important types:
      1. Acid bog.
      2. Acid seep.
      3. Circumneutral bog.
      4. Circumneutral seep.
      5. Cypress swamp.
      6. Dune and swale.
      7. Fen.
      8. Forested fen.
      9. Forested swamp.
      10. Marl beach.
      11. Muck flat.
      12. Panne.
      13. Sand flat.
      14. Sedge meadow.
      15. Shrub swamp.
      16. Sinkhole pond.
      17. Sinkhole swamp.
      18. Wet floodplain forest.
      19. Wet prairie.
      20. Wet sand prairie.

How do I determine the class of my state regulated wetland?

The agency has developed a wetland classification form to be used in determining what class a wetland is. The form can be found on the IDEM forms page. IDEM has also established a technical guidance document to aid in the completion of the form. The guidance and form aim to provide transparency and reproducibility in the classification process. The guidance document can be found on the IDEM Guidance Documents and Resources page.

What should I do if I think my state regulated wetland is “exempt”?

It is always best to contact IDEM regarding wetland exemptions based on class, size or activity.  IDEM can provide a waters of the state determination (WOSD) for all wetlands on the property which is good for five years.  To request a WOSD, submit your wetland delineation, approved jurisdictional determination from the USACE and wetland classification forms with a written request.

What state regulated wetland permits are available?

Impacts to non-exempt Class II state regulated wetlands, associated with tile maintenance is regulated by a general permit known as the Field Tile Maintenance General Permit in Class II State Regulated Wetlands.

IDEM will require a 327 IAC 17-4 permit (a state regulated wetland individual permit for dredge and fill activities in Class II and Class III wetlands.

How do I apply for a State Regulated Wetland Permit/Permits?

Application forms are available for download on our application page. You may wish to hire an environmental consultant to determine your scope of impacts, prepare your application, and submit your application along with all required enclosures (maps/plans/figures) that must be included with your application form. The application form is the same for all state regulated wetland permits.

Which application form do I need to use?

The required application form for any impacts to state regulated wetlands is the Application for Authorization to Discharge Dredged or Fill Material to Isolated Wetlands and/or Waters of the State. Applications are available for download from the IDEM Forms page.

What is mitigation?

Applicants must demonstrate to IDEM how they are avoiding impacts to wetlands. If an applicant is unable to completely avoid impacts, they must demonstrate how their proposed project and unavoidable impacts to state regulated wetlands have been minimized. Applicants must provide compensatory mitigation for any remaining non-exempt impacts to state regulated wetlands.

Compensatory mitigation is the last step in the previously mentioned three-step approach of

  1. avoidance,
  2. minimization, and
  3. compensation.

The purpose of mitigation is to compensate for unavoidable impacts to state regulated wetlands.

Compensatory actions are actions taken that provide some form of substitute aquatic resource for the impacted aquatic resource. Compensatory mitigation may involve:

  • Restoration of existing degraded wetlands or areas that were previously wetland
  • Creation of new wetlands
  • Preservation of existing wetland and streams, when utilized in conjunction with creation or restoration
  • Preservation or restoration of upland buffers adjacent to surface waters, when utilized in conjunction with creation or restoration
  • Enhancement of existing wetlands

Why does IDEM require compensatory mitigation?

State law requires that applicants perform compensatory wetland mitigation when an applicant proposes to impact a state regulated wetland. Mitigation ratios are written into the State Regulated Wetland law and can be found at IC 13-18-22-6. Filling a wetland eliminates its existing and potential uses. Therefore, IDEM would not be maintaining and protecting the uses of that Water if IDEM did not require replacement of the filled wetland. Additionally, the filled wetland would violate the state’s narrative minimum surface water quality standards (327 IAC 2-1-6 and 327 2-1.5-8) if mitigation were not provided for its impact. In other words, compensatory mitigation provides IDEM with the flexibility to authorize projects that IDEM would otherwise have to deny for violating the antidegradation rules and minimum water quality standards.

Does IDEM use set mitigation ratios/ have specific mitigation requirements?

State law requires that applicants perform compensatory wetland mitigation when an applicant proposes to impact a non-exempt state regulated wetland. In general, IDEM requires that impacted wetlands be replaced with wetlands of the same type (e.g., a forested wetland that is filled must be replaced with a forested wetland). However, IDEM may, under limited circumstances and in rare occasions, allow an applicant to create or restore a different type of wetland or aquatic habitat if that “out-of-kind” mitigation will provide better water quality.

Mitigation ratios are written into Indiana’s State Regulated Wetland Law and can be found at IC 13-18-22-6.

Compensatory mitigation shall be provided in accordance with the following table:

Class of Impacted Wetland Class of Replacement Wetland Ratio for on-site and In-lieu Fee mitigation Ratio for off-site mitigation
Class II Class II or Class III 1.5 to 1 Non-forested
2 to 1 Forested
2 to 1 Non-forested
2.5 to 1 Forested
Class III Class III 2 to 1 Non-Forested
2.5 to 1 Forested
2.5 to 1 Non-forested
3 to 1 Forested

The larger ratios (e.g., 3:1) reflect the increased difficulty of recreating the type of wetland destroyed and the temporal loss associated with the time it takes to create the wetland. In some cases IDEM will not permit mitigation at any ratio, regardless of the wetland type, if the proposed project would degrade water quality in such a manner that mitigation could not offset the loss of protected uses.

If mitigation is off-site, the mitigation must be within the same eight (8) digit U.S. Geological Service hydrologic unit code or within the county of the wetland impact. Exempt state regulated wetlands may be used to provide compensatory mitigation for approved wetland impacts. An exempt isolated wetland that is used to provide compensatory mitigation becomes a state regulated wetland. There are minimum success criteria that all wetland mitigation sites must meet. The IDEM Non Rule Policy Document, Minimum Success Criteria for Wetland Compensatory Mitigation (NRPD-Water-010, available on the IDEM Nonrules Policies page) was put into effect on September 8, 2006.

How much are the application fees for State regulated Wetland Permits?

There is, currently, no fee to apply for any state regulated wetland permit.

Where do I send my application form?

Send your application form via U.S. mail to the Office of Water Quality Wetlands and Storm Water Section. However, it is preferred to email applications to the project manager assigned to the county where the activity will occur. To determine project manager assignments visit the IDEM Contacts page. IDEM is in the process of developing a more efficient methods of electronic submittals via a new database.

What do I have to submit with my application form?

Required enclosures and submittals are specified on Page 2 of the Application for Authorization to Discharge Dredged or Fill Material to state regulated wetlands and/or Waters of the U.S., please refer to Page 2 of the application. All required enclosures and submittals are specified in Section 6 (Drawing/Plan Requirements) and Section 7 (Supplemental Application Materials) of the application.

How can I avoid delays in the IDEM review process?

It is strongly recommended that you contact the IDEM project manager for the county you are working in.

It is recommended that you contact IDEM to set up a pre-application meeting, either in our office or out on your site, to discuss your project. IDEM staff will meet with you, as time allows, to discuss your proposed project. Complex projects with a larger scope of impact may have priority over pre-application meetings for smaller projects.

IDEM cannot process any application proposing impacts to wetlands without a copy of a wetland delineation report and a copy of correspondence from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stating the jurisdiction of the wetlands. If you submit an application to IDEM proposing wetland impacts without a copy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers correspondence, your application will be rejected by the IDEM project manager who reviews the application.

What can I expect once I’ve sent in my application form?

First, be sure to submit your application form to IDEM via certified mail to ensure that it is received by the agency.

Applications submitted for a Field Tile Maintenance in a Class II State Regulated Wetland General Permit  have a review timeframe of 30 days from the date of receipt by IDEM. Applicants will receive a formal response letter from IDEM which notifies them whether the project falls within or outside the scope of the terms and conditions of the general permit.

Upon receipt of an application for an state regulated wetland individual permit, IDEM staff will review the application and required enclosures for completeness and accuracy. If any deficiencies are noted in the application, IDEM staff will send a letter of deficiency (LOD) to both the applicant and agent noted on the application form within 15 business days of receipt of the application by IDEM. In the interest of time, IDEM staff may send a LOD email to both the applicant and agent instead of a LOD sent through U.S. Mail. Once IDEM has a complete application, the agency has ninety (90) days to make an agency decision (approval or denial). Public notice and comment are integral components of IDEM’s state regulated wetland permit review. IDEM is required to public notice the receipt of all applications requiring a state regulated wetland individual permit for 30 days. Notice is served to adjacent property owners, other state and federal agencies, and any person who has requested to receive public notices for state regulated wetland individual permit applications. Public notices are also posted on the IDEM Public Notices portal.

No agency decision can be made until the 30-day public notice has expired and all comments have been addressed (if any were received). IDEM has 90 days from receipt of a complete application to make a formal agency decision (approval or denial).

Is there an opportunity to comment on applications for State Regulated Wetland Individual Permits?

All applications for state regulated wetland individual permits are subject to public comment. As stated above, IDEM will issue a public notice allowing 30 days for comments on water quality to be submitted to IDEM. All public notices are also posted electronically on the IDEM Public Notices portal.

In addition to submitting comments on water quality, interested parties may also request a public hearing on the application. If there is significant public interest in the application or if substantial questions or new information pertaining to water quality issues are raised, then IDEM may hold a public hearing.

Will I receive a document in writing stating that my application has been approved or denied?

Applicants will receive a formal agency decision once IDEM’s review of the application is complete. For state regulated wetland general permits, applicants will receive a formal response letter from IDEM which notifies them whether the project falls within or outside the scope of the terms and conditions of the general permit .

For state regulated wetland individual permits, applicants will receive either a written  approval or denial. Approvals of state regulated wetland individual permits typically have conditions imposed by IDEM included as part of the approval.

What types of conditions might IDEM impose as part of an approval of an State Regulated Wetland Individual Permit?

Typical “special conditions” include minimization of impacts, compensatory mitigation for wetland impacts, monitoring requirements for required compensatory wetland mitigation, establishment of buffer zones around waterbodies, prohibitions on work during certain periods of the year, the implementation of storm water management measures, including erosion control and sediment control measures, conservation easements/deed restrictions or equivalents, and additional monitoring or water quality studies.

Are there any other permits I might need to apply for if I want to work in a wetland, stream, lake, river, or other water?

The granting of state regulated wetland permits and/or Section 401 Water Quality Certification from IDEM does not relieve you of the responsibility of obtaining any other state, local or federal authorizations.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Division of Water (DOW) has their own permitting mechanism for working in Indiana Streams, Lakes, and Floodways; your project may require a Construction in a Floodway Permit or a Public Freshwater Lake Permit from IDNR. More than 50% of the projects requiring IDEM Section 401 Water Quality Certification will also require a Construction in a Floodway Permit from DNR. To inquire about permitting requirements from both agencies, the Waterways Inquiry Request form may be accessed by visiting https://www.in.gov/waterways/.

You may also need a permit from your County Surveyor if you wish to work in a stream or river that your county has determined to be a “legal drain.”

Additionally, if you are planning to disturb an acre or more of soil during the construction of your project, you will need a Construction/Land Disturbance Run-off general permit from the Office of Water Quality Storm Water Program.

See Also:

 Top FAQs