Countywide Wetlands Protection Code

Adopted January 23rd, 201​8 by the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners

Effective January 23rd, 2018

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The Alachua County Charter Amendment 1 was approved by voters in November 2000, giving the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners the authority to establish countywide standards for protecting the environment by prohibiting or regulating air and water pollution.  Chapter 77, the “Alachua County Water Quality Standards and Management Practices Code” was amended in January 23, 2018 to add “Article II Countywide Wetland Protection Code.”

Applicability within Municipality (City) boundaries

This is a Countywide Wetland Protection Code which means parcels within the current and future jurisdictional limits of the various municipalities within Alachua County have to comply with the protection requirements. However, where municipalities have specific wetland, surface water and buffer requirements that may exceed the criteria associated with Countywide code, the County will recognize the more restrictive criteria.

What if I live in unincorporated Alachua County (outside of any city limits)?

Alachua County's existing protection requirements for wetlands, surface waters and buffers within unincorporated properties remain in place, along with the current project review requirements. These forms only apply to properties within municipalities. If you have questions regarding wetland protection requirements for parcels within unincorporated Alachua County, please contact staff at 352-264-6800.

What are the Countywide Wetland Protection Code requirements?

The code states that “no development activity shall occur in, on or over a surface water or wetland area or buffer, and no development activity shall occur adjacent to or connected to a surface water or wetland area such that the water quality is in violation of the standards of this Chapter or the water regime is modified in a way that precludes the area in question from maintaining the surface water or hydroperiod necessary to sustain wetland structure and function equivalent to predevelopment levels.”  What this means is that wetlands, surface waters and their buffers are protected from clearing and other land development activities (see definition below), and no alteration shall occur without prior authorization by the county. 

Development activities include “dredging, filling, excavation, construction of new structures, expansion of existing structures, installation of utilities, roads, personal wireless service facilities, stormwater management systems, septic tanks; bulkheading, land clearing, tree cutting, mechanized vegetation removal, and the disposal of solid or liquid waste.”

The following table summarizes the average and minimum buffer requirements:

Surface Water & Wetlands
Buffer Distance (feet)*
Surface waters and wetlands less than or equal to 0.5 acre that do not include Outstanding Florida Waters or listed animal species as described elsewhere in this table.
  50 average,
  35 minimum
 Surface waters and wetlands greater than 0.5 acre that do not include Outstanding Florida Waters or listed animal species as described elsewhere in this table.
   75 average,
  50 minimum
Areas where federally and/or state regulated vertebrate wetland/aquatic dependent animal species have been documented within 300 feet of a surface water or wetland.
  100 average, 
  75 minimum
Outstanding Florida Waters (OFW)
  150 average,
  100 minimum

*If the buffer precludes all economically viable use of a particular property, development activities may be allowed in the buffer in accordance with Section 77.20.

How do I comply with the Countywide Wetland Protection Code?

Prior to improvements or alterations to your property/parcel, you shall submit one of the following forms through the Application Portal​ to verify compliance with wetland protection requirements:

  1. Self-certification Form – Submit this form to self-certify that the proposed activity complies with the surface water, wetland and buffer protection requirements outlined in Chapter 77, Article II of the Alachua County Code, or is exempt under Sec. 77.21.
  2. Verification Request Form – If you are unsure whether your proposed work complies with the countywide wetland protection requirements, submit this form to request verification from county staff. You will receive a response within 10 days of submittal and determine if additional information or actions are necessary to comply with the code or qualify for an exemption, at which time a Self-certification Form may be required. If the requested activity does not meet the terms and conditions of the code, an Application Form will be required.
  3. Application form - Submit this form if your proposed activity does not meet protection requirements found in Chapter 77​, Article II or the exemptions identified in Sec. 77.21, and to request impacts to wetlands, surface waters, and/or associated buffers. If all practicable modifications have been made to reduce or eliminate adverse impacts to wetlands, other surface waters, and buffers, and adverse impacts are still proposed, mitigation may be required. It is recommended that you discuss mitigation requirements with the County’s Environmental Protection Department, prior to submitting this application. If you have a mitigation proposal, you may include it with your application submittal. Mitigation proposals, however, shall not be considered or discussed until it is determined that all practicable alternatives to impacts have been explored.  Approval of a Mitigation and Monitoring Plan by the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners must be secured prior to any proposed activity within wetlands, other surface waters, or buffers.

What is the cost or fee to submit an application?
Currently, there are no application fees associated with this process. Visit the Application Portal​ to submit your application. 

Phone: 352-264-6800 or ​​