Florida wetlands are areas that are inundated or saturated by surface water or ground water at a frequency and a duration sufficient to support a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soils. Wetlands are considered vital to the health of the environment because they remove and filter pollutants. The wetland plants and soils trap and take up pollutants, which then keeps the water fit for swimming, fishing and drinking. These areas that are considered wetlands are influenced by water on land and the depth of water and length of time it sits varies, and they act as temporary storage for surplus water, thereby reducing flooding. Wetlands also hold a vast amount of fish and wildlife that supports the commercial fishing industry, tourism and other recreation industries.
Both state and federal permits may be required to alter wetlands and other surface waters. The Environmental Resource Permit Program within the Department of Environmental Protection regulates the construction, alteration, maintenance, removal, modification and operation of all activities in uplands, wetlands and all other surface waters that alter, divert, and change the flow of surface waters.
All state and local agencies use the same method to determine wetland boundaries based on chapter 62- 340 in the Florida Administrative Code. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hold their own definition and standards for wetlands at a federal level. The differences in methods may produce different wetland boundaries in some situations.