These are requirements that ban development from wetlands, or which require that any filling of wetlands be mitigated through an offset system (i.e., more wetland must be improved or expanded then would be filled in).  A buffer ordinance is also often adopted requiring that a landscaped setback be created or preserved around a riparian or isolated wetland, in order to intercept and reduce the amount of soil being carried by stormwater runoff before it reaches the wetland.


Wetland provide important environmental benefits, including stormwater storage, habitat, and the biological removal and treatment of pollutants. Intercepting stormwater runoff before it reaches a wetland can keep wetlands from being slowly filled in my soils being carried by the runoff.  Not only must the wetland itself be protected against being directly filled in, but also the surrounding area must be managed to protect against indirect filling-in of the wetland by sedimentation from adjacent activities .


Wetlands pose costly engineering problems and serve valuable environmental functions, so it makes sense not to build in or around them.  On the other hand, a wetland is often perceived by many as a development disamenity, since few want to live next to a swamp, and there is considerable pressure by developers to surreptitiously fill them in or pave them over to increase the value of their properties.  Compliance monitoring of existing wetlands is a necessary process that will entail costs for the community.


Example 1: Mahtomedi, MN 

Mahtomedi Ordinance

Description: A suburban community in Minnesota’s Wetland Buffer Ordinance


Example 2: Association of State Wetlands Managers’ 

Model ASWM Ordinance

Description: A model ordinance produced by the ASWM with help from 3 EPA Regional Offices


Example 3: Oswego, IL

Oswego Stream and Wetland Protection Ordinance

Description: This small city at the edge of the Chicago metro area adopted a protection ordinance for their streams and wetlands in January 2008.


Example 4: Indiana 

Model Indiana Ordinance

Description: An Indiana attorney wrote a model ordinance for communities that is tailored to Indiana law.  It is meant to facilitate the easy adoption of wetlands ordinances and promote wetlands protection.


Example 5: New York

Freshwater Wetlands NY

Description: Freshwater wetlands preservation program.