Vol. 20 No. 4 May 3, 2012

Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Survey
Window - Now Open


If you are undertaking a project that will impact tidal waters, you will be required to undertake surveys to document the presence or absence of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) within your project area. Example projects include boat piers/docks, marinas, and channel dredging operations.

What is Submerged Aquatic Vegetation?

Submerged aquatic vegetation are communities of plants that live beneath the water surface, often forming dense beds, that provide food and shelter for wildlife (such as fish and waterfowl), help to remove nutrients and sediments from the water column, and help to stabilize sediments while reducing wave energy and erosion. Two examples of SAV follow:

Coontail (Ceratophylum demersum)
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Water stargrass (Heteranthera dubia)
Click Image to Enlarge

Why should a survey be done?

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) regulates nearly all the subaqueous areas (i.e., lands under the water) of Virginia (all - including all tidal waters), thus, activities over, under, or on these areas require a permit from VMRC. According to Section I.C.3 of the VMRC Subaqueous Guidelines, "should a permitted project result in a loss or impact to submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), compensatory mitigation may be required. This may include transplantation of SAV from the area of impact or planting of a new area." Similar regulations apply in Maryland as well. Thus, if you are undertaking work by the tidal Potomac or other tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay, you need to know if you will have the potential to impact SAV.

When can a survey be done?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Chesapeake Bay Office's published guidelines recommend that field surveys be conducted during two windows: May 15 through June 15 and July 15 through September 15. These two windows allow surveyors to locate different species that may only be present during these timeframes.

Who can conduct these surveys?

The team at Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. (WSSI) has significant experience conducting SAV surveys. Contact us today to discuss how we can help meet your project needs!

WSSI staff conducting survey in near shore shallow water
WSSI staff conducting survey by boat in deeper water

Contact Ben Rosner, Mark Headly, or Dan Lucey with questions or for additional information.