Whoever said “what you don’t know won’t hurt you” would be pretty awful at project management.  Often our success as a consultant hinges on the ability to anticipate an environmental permitting hurdle early in the process.  Nobody finishes the race unscathed by blindly barreling through every hurdle in the way.  But just knowing where the hurdles are isn’t enough, you need to know when to jump and how high.  The details matter.

I recently completed an advanced course on wetland hydrology and one slide on the dynamic relationship between water viscosity and air temperature reminded me of the importance of anticipating hurdles.  Bear with me, it’s more important than you think.    While wetland delineation and permitting is highly technical, it is also subject to seasonal fluctuations in hydrology, vegetation and soil conditions. Since water viscosity is highest at colder temperatures, it tends to persist longer on the ground during the winter.  This dynamic can play tricks on consultants and regulators alike, seemingly telling two different wetland stories depending on the season.

A wetland scientist’s ability to quickly differentiate between temporary and persistent hydrologic conditions and other factors, can make a significant difference in permit review time and mitigation costs.  Considering seasonal variability early on results in better site planning and documentation while mitigating regulatory uncertainty.  Because what you don’t know about seasonal wetland variability can hurt you, but it doesn’t have to.

If you have questions about potential stream and wetland delineation or permitting, please contact me at josiahf@smithmanage.com. Josiah is an Environmental Scientist at Smith Management Group.