2023 CEQ Annual Report

Land Stewardship

Preserved Land                  Forests                     Farmland


Climate Change Indicator



Inland Wetlands:

In Connecticut, inland wetlands are defined as land, including submerged land (not including tidal wetlands) “which consists of any of the soil types designated as poorly drained, very poorly drained, alluvial, and floodplain by the National Cooperative Soil Survey, as may be amended from time to time, of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)”.31 According to data from the USDA’s NRCS, there are or were approximately 95,000 acres underlain by alluvial and floodplain soils and 366,000 acres underlain by poorly drained and very poorly drained soils in Connecticut. Collectively, the area underlain by these soils is estimated to account for approximately 14 percent of the total area in Connecticut. 

Implementation of the inland wetlands law has been problematic.

In 1972, the state legislature enacted the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act (IWWA), which provides a regulatory process to protect wetlands. Activities that are likely to affect inland wetlands and watercourses are regulated by each town’s municipal inland wetlands agency; however, there is no standard requirement for regulation of the upland area adjacent to identified wetlands. Regulated activities include, but are not limited to, filling, dredging, clearing, grubbing, grading, piping, culverting, channelizing, diverting, damming, dewatering or otherwise temporarily or permanently altering inland wetlands and watercourses. A report by the Council in 2008, Swamped, identified a number of problems with how the law was being implemented. Though some improvements have been made, such as the provision of online training* and an electronic complaint reporting form to file a coastal or inland water resource complaint, there remain structural impediments to efficient implementation:

  • The requirement that at least one member of a municipal inland wetlands agency be trained is not enforced. This is due, in part, to the limited staff resources at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) assigned to assist municipal wetland agency officials.
  • Extending the Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Connecticut and securing funding for the online training program for municipal inland wetland officials has not been determined, by DEEP, beyond the summer of 2024. 
  • Data that are required to be submitted by municipalities on the actions of their inland wetlands agencies are not automatically entered into a database. This requires the limited staff resources at DEEP to transfer the data that DEEP receives on written or emailed forms into a database manually.

Wetlands serve many functions; one of them being their unique ability to store and sequester carbon. Forested wetlands, which comprise most of the inland wetlands in the state serve as important carbon sinks and continue to sequester carbon as organic matter within the forested system (both above and below ground). Tidal wetlands remove more carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere per hectare than forests. Although tidal wetlands are generally better carbon sinks than freshwater wetlands, the substantial extent of forested wetlands across the state should be recognized as important to greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation strategies and incorporated into inland wetland protection efforts in Connecticut.32

Technical Note: *Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) Section 22a-42(d) requires that at least one member of the inland wetlands agency or staff of the agency be a person who has completed the comprehensive training program. The online training program fulfills the requirement pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) Section 22a-42(d) that at least one member of the inland wetlands agency or staff of the agency be a person who has completed the comprehensive training program. This course also fulfills the training requirement for duly authorized agents pursuant to CGS Section 22a-42a(c)(2)


31 Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) Sec. 22a-38 (15); www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_440.htm#sec_22a-38.
32 DEEP, Final Report: Working and Natural Lands Working Group, Wetlands Subgroup, November 2020; portal.ct.gov/-/media/DEEP/climatechange/GC3/GC3-working-group-reports/GC3_WNL_Wetlands_Final_Report_111320.pdf#page=11.