ALTA Survey

ALTA Surveys: Wetlands

Sep. 19 2019 - Burk Cornelius, PLS

The 2011 ALTA/ACSM Minimum Standard Detail Requirements wetlands are addressed in Table A Item 19. It read as follows:

“Location of wetland areas as delineated by appropriate authorities.”

2016 ALTA/NSPS Standards

In the 2016 ALTA/NSPS Minimum Standard Detail Requirements wetlands are addressed in Table A Item 18. It reads as follows:

“If there has been a field delineation of wetlands conducted by a qualified specialist hired by the client, the surveyor shall locate any delineation markers observed in the process of conducting the fieldwork and show them on the face of the plat or map. If no markers were observed, the surveyor shall so state.”

Table A

What’s different?

Not much in my opinion, but the responsibilities of the surveyor are clarified. “Appropriate authorities” was somewhat vague. Now, “qualified specialist” is used. Furthermore, it specifies that if a field delineation has not been conducted, then there really isn’t anything for the surveyor to show. Clients will still invariably ask for Table A Item 18, knowing that a field delineation has not been/will not be performed.

So, what’s a surveyor to do?

I recommend not including 18, if a field delineation has not been conducted. However, clients sometimes will not rest unless the list of Optional Table A Items matches their checklist. In that case, a surveyor could include Table A Item 18 in the certification but include a notation similar to the following per the standard:

“No markers indicating a delineation of wetlands have been observed during the completion of this survey”

Before the release of the 2016 Standards, I typically included the following as a standard notation on all surveys, even if [old] Table A item 19 was not requested.

“[No apparent] wetlands are located on the subject property according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wetlands Inventory located at

This note is still acceptable and does not state that a wetland delineation has been conducted. It does not contradict the Standards as long as the previous note is also included. 

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