Certified Wetland Delineator Program (CWD)
Purpose and Need
There has been a longtime need for individuals to be able to demonstrate their wetland delineation technical skills. In the early 1990’s the US Army Corps of Engineers recognized the need to establish a certification program to reduce the amount of time spent on Corps field reviews of various development projects. Sadly, this program was disbanded due largely to budget constraints of the time. It does not appear that this program will be resurrected by the Corps at any time in the near future.
The Society of Wetland Scientists offers an excellent Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS) certification. It is fairly broad in scope but it is not specific to wetland delineation. The PWS is a highly desirable credential to have, but it does not distinguish between the various wetland disciplines for which the certification is offered.
The main objective of the Swamp School’s Certified Wetland Delineator Program (CWD) is provide a certification that identifies individuals who are highly skilled in the technical aspects of wetland delineation. This enables clients of certified delineators to make informed decisions when choosing to engage these individuals for wetland delineation services. A Certified Wetland Delineator (CWD) is able to reliably demonstrate that he or she can acutely depict areas of land that would be subject to the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act regulations as administered by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Environmental Protection Agency.
It is important to note that this certification in no way implies that a Certified Wetland Delineator (CWD) can issue a preliminary or approved jurisdictional determination with regards to areas considered waters of the US or a waters of the state. That authority remains with the Corps, the EPA and in some jurisdictions, the state.
Standards and Ethics
It is the goal of this certification program to help the regulatory agencies reduce review time on various projects by enabling them to sort the qualified delineators from the less than qualified delineators. The certification carries with it not only a demonstration of technical prowess, but also a measure of accountability. If a certified wetland delineator provides consistently accurate work, the agencies should not need as much time double checking their work. This saves agency resource time and speeds up the overall review process.
If however, a Certified Wetland Delineator produces inaccurate or consistently poor work, the delineator runs the risk of losing their certification. Part of the certification is an agreement to subscribe to a code of ethics. Deviation from these ethics is also a reason to lose the certification.
The complete certification program is roughly a one year process. This is a far cry from the traditional 4 or 5 day program currently being offered. The Swamp School’s one-week basic wetland training is a very good program to get started. It however, cannot cover all the material needed to show a high level of skill in just one week. We will continue to offer the week long program which has served many individuals well in getting their wetland careers started.
The Certified Wetland Delineator Program (CWD) is broken up into 4 area specific sessions. You can take the first three below in any order. You must complete these before you start the final CWD class.
Each session is offered as an online virtual classroom and requires a fair amount of at home field work. Each session has a database component that requires collection and identification of wetland field indicators. There are also instructional videos, various handouts materials, classroom discussions, quizzes and tests. Each session represents the rough time requirements of a graduate level 3.0 credit class. The only out of town travel requirement is for the participation in the final field practicum.
The components to this certification include:
- Certified Hydric Soils Investigator (CHSI)
- Certified Wetland Botanist (CWB)
- Certified Wetland Hydrologist (CWH)
- Certified Wetland Delineator (CWD)
To become a Certified Wetland Delineator (CWD) you will be asked to participate in a wetland delineation methods program that will conclude with an in-person field practicum examination. The instructional portion of this program is offered online. The field exam is offered several times a year in various locations. The location of the field exam will be based in-part upon the location most central to the majority of students enrolled in the program.
We will be adding more online wetland component sessions soon. Please keep an eye on our calendar for the latest updates.