Chapter 13.14


13.14.005    Purpose, goals, and policies.

13.14.010    Classification, designation and delineation of wetlands.

13.14.020    Determination process.

13.14.030    Wetland management and mitigation plan.

13.14.040    Management recommendations and standards.

13.14.005 Purpose, goals, and policies.

The city of Othello has few identified wetlands within the existing city limits but the Othello Growth Area has a number of wetlands identified by the most recent mapping resources. Whether these wetlands are jurisdictional or not, it is the intent of the city of Othello to promote public health and welfare by instituting local measures to preserve naturally occurring wetlands that may be annexed in the future. These areas may serve a variety of vital functions, including, but not limited to: flood storage and conveyance, water quality protection, biofiltration, recharge and discharge areas for ground water, erosion control, sediment control, fish and wildlife habitat, recreation, education and scientific research.

Protection measures should strive to spare identified value and function of wetlands that may be in jeopardy from new development proposals. However, regulations shall not prohibit uses legally existing on any parcel prior to their adoption.

The city recognizes that various legal means and levels of government already address protection of wetlands. Effort will be made to avoid unnecessary duplication and to promote cooperation and coordination whenever possible. The following reflect the goals and policies of the community:

(a)    Goal. The city’s wetlands will be protected to the greatest extent possible because they provide important functions that protect and improve the quality of life.

(b)    Policies.

(1)    Use of innovative techniques should be encouraged to protect wetlands.

(2)    For development proposals which encompass wetland areas or their buffers there will be a site-specific review process required to determine impacts of development. (Ord. 1505 § 6 (part), 2018).

13.14.010 Classification, designation and delineation of wetlands.

(a)    Wetlands shall be identified, designated and delineated (including being marked in the field) using best available science (BAS), including:

(1)    The 1987 Federal (Corps of Engineers) Wetland Delineation Manual and Regional Supplements in accordance with WAC 173-22-035;

(2)    The current “National Wetland Plant List” (NWPL) by the Army Corps of Engineers; and

(3)    The most recently updated version of the “Field Indicators of Hydric Soils in the United States” by the United States Department of Agriculture, National Resources Conservation Service.

(b)    A wetland delineation includes the following:

(1)    Clearly marking the wetland boundary in the field;

(2)    Producing a map that clearly identifies data collection points and the boundaries of the delineated wetland; and

(3)    A report that explains how the boundary was determined, including data forms, a soil survey map, and the map described in subsection (b)(2) of this section.

(c)    Classification and rating of wetlands will be done using the Washington State Wetlands Rating System for Eastern Washington (Hruby, 2014). Wetland rating categories shall not change due to illegal modifications made by the applicant or with the applicant’s knowledge. (Ord. 1505 § 6 (part), 2018).

13.14.020 Determination process.

The city of Othello will review each development permit application to determine if the provisions of this section will be applied to the project. In making the determination, the city may use any of the reference maps and/or inventories identified in this chapter. The following progressive steps will occur upon a determination that a wetland area may exist on a site proposed for a development permit:

(a)    Predetermination Review. City staff will determine if there are any possible wetland areas on site. This determination shall be made following a review of information available from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife priority habitat and species (PHS), as well as a site inspection and/or a consultation with a qualified wetland biologist, if deemed necessary by the city. If no regulated wetland area is determined to be present, this chapter shall not apply to the review of the proposed development.

(b)    Determination. If it is determined that wetland areas may be present, a site inspection and consultation with a qualified wetland biologist shall be conducted to more definitively determine if a regulated wetland area exists on the site. This determination shall include review of the possible wetland under the “Focus on Irrigation-Influenced Wetlands” publication dated July 2010, issued by the Department of Ecology—Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program, for determining if the wetland is artificial. If no, this section shall not apply to the review of the proposed development. If yes, the applicant shall conduct a wetland delineation and shall submit a wetland management and mitigation plan, as provided for in this chapter. (Ord. 1505 § 6 (part), 2018).

13.14.030 Wetland management and mitigation plan.

(a)    As determined necessary as provided for in this chapter, a wetland management and mitigation plan shall be required when impacts to a wetland are unavoidable during project development.

(b)    Wetland management and mitigation plans shall be prepared by a professional wetland scientist with sufficient experience as a wetlands professional including delineating wetlands using the federal manuals, preparing wetland reports, using the state rating system, conducting function assessments and developing and implementing mitigation plans.

(c)    The wetland management and mitigation plan shall demonstrate, when implemented, that there shall be no net loss of the ecological function or acreage of the wetland.

(d)    The wetland management and mitigation plan shall identify how impacts from the proposed project shall be mitigated, as well as the necessary monitoring and contingency actions for the continued maintenance of the wetland and its associated buffer, to include invasive species tracking and control.

(e)    The wetland management and mitigation plan shall contain a report that includes, but is not limited to, the following information:

(1)    Location maps, regional 1:24,000 and local 1:4,800;

(2)    A map or maps indicating the boundary delineation of the wetland; the width and length of all existing and proposed structures, utilities, roads, easements; wastewater and stormwater facilities; adjacent land uses, zoning districts and comprehensive plan designations;

(3)    A description of the proposed project including the nature, density and intensity of the proposed development and the associated grading, structures, utilities, stormwater facilities, etc., in sufficient detail to allow analysis of such land use change upon the identified wetland;

(4)    A detailed description of vegetative, faunal and hydrologic conditions, soil and substrate characteristics, and topographic features within and surrounding the wetland;

(5)    A detailed description of vegetative, faunal and hydrologic conditions, soil and substrate characteristics, and topographic features within any compensation site;

(6)    A detailed description of the proposed project’s effect on the wetland, and a discussion of any federal, state or local management recommendations which have been developed for the area;

(7)    A discussion of the following mitigation alternatives as they relate to the proposal. The mitigation alternatives shall be proposed in a manner that considers the following in order of priority:

(A)    Avoiding the impact altogether by not taking a certain action or parts of an action;

(B)    Minimizing impacts by limiting the degree or magnitude of the action and its implementation, by using appropriate technology, or by taking affirmative steps to avoid or reduce impacts;

(C)    Rectifying the impact by repairing, rehabilitating or restoring the affected environment;

(D)    Compensating for the impact by replacing, enhancing or providing substitute resources or environments;

(8)    A plan by the applicant which explains how any adverse impacts created by the proposed development will be mitigated, including without limitation the following techniques:

(A)    Establishment of buffer zones;

(B)    Preservation of critically important plants and trees;

(C)    Limitation of access to the wetland area;

(D)    Seasonal restriction of construction activities;

(E)    Establishment of a monitoring program within the plan;

(F)    Drainage and erosion control techniques; and

(G)    Invasive species tracking and control.

(9)    A detailed discussion of ongoing management practices which will protect the wetland after the project site has been fully developed, including proposed monitoring, contingency, maintenance and surety programs for the time period necessary to establish that the performance standards have been met, but for not less than five years;

(10)    All reports will be provided in an electronic format (word processor) and all geographic entities (maps, etc.) will be provided in a geo-coded format for use in GIS systems (ArcView, MapInfo, AutoCAD, etc.).

(f)    Mitigation ratios shall be used when impacts to wetlands cannot be avoided. Mitigation ratios are based on Ecology’s Wetland Mitigation in Washington State: Part 1—Agency Policies and Guidance (Version 1, March 2006, Publication No. 06-06-011a). As identified below, the first number specifies the acreage of replacement wetlands and the second number specifies the acreage of wetlands altered. The mitigation ratios by wetland type are as follows:

Category and Type of
Wetland Impact

Reestablishment or Creation


Reestablishment or Creation (R/C) and Rehabilitation (RH)

Reestablishment or Creation (R/C) and Enhancement (E)

Enhancement Only

All Category IV




1:1 R/C

2:1 E


All Category III



1:1 R/C

2:1 RH

1:2 R/C

4:1 E


Category II Vernal Pool

2:1 Compensation must be seasonally ponded wetland


Compensation must be seasonally ponded wetland

1:1 R/C

2:1 RH

Case by case

Case by case

All Other Category II



1:1 R/C

4:1 RH

1:1 R/C

8:1 E


Category I Based on Score for Functions



1:1 R/C

6:1 RH

1:1 R/C

12:1 E


Category I Alkali

Not considered possible

6:1 Rehabilitation of an alkali wetland

R/C Not considered possible

R/C Not considered possible

Case by case

(g)    Wetlands Enhancement as Mitigation.

(1)    Impacts to wetlands may be mitigated by enhancement of existing wetlands and must be accomplished in a manner consistent with the requirements of Section 13.08.170. Applicants proposing to enhance wetland must produce a critical area report that identifies how enhancement will increase the functions of the wetland and how this increase will adequately mitigate for the loss of wetland area and function at the impact site.

(2)    The ratios identified in subsection (f) of this section shall be at a minimum four times the required acreage where the enhancement proposal would result in minimal gain in the performance of wetland functions and/or result in the reduction of other wetland functions currently being provided in the wetland. (Ord. 1505 § 6 (part), 2018).

13.14.040 Management recommendations and standards.

The following management recommendations and standards will apply to development proposals determined to be located within wetland areas, as defined and described herein:

(a)    Wetlands shall be protected, based on their quality established from the rating system, and from alterations which may create adverse impacts. The greatest protection shall be provided to Category I and II wetlands.

(b)    Alteration shall not mean best management practices for agriculture which by design could not be considered a change in land use, including but not limited to improved chemical application or practice, which are intended to improve crop production and enhance areas adjacent to wetlands.

(c)    Activities conducted by public agencies to control mosquitoes in compliance with state and federal laws shall be exempt from city wetland regulations.

(d)    Activities and construction necessary on an emergency basis to prevent threats to public health and safety may be allowed if reasonable justification warrants cause for a waiver.

(e)    The city will coordinate wetland preservation strategy and effort with appropriate state and federal agencies, and private conservation organizations, to take advantage of both technical and financial assistance, and to avoid duplication of efforts.

(f)    A wetland buffer that separates a wetland from a development is required. The purpose of the buffer is to mitigate adverse impacts of development activities and future use on the wetland. The width and character of buffers shall be as necessary to protect the identified functions and values of the wetland from impacts associated with the specific type and character of the proposed development activities and use of the property in accordance with the BAS. A wetland buffer area of adequate width shall be maintained between wetlands and adjacent new development to protect the function and integrity of wetlands. The ultimate width of the established buffer shall be dependent upon functioning and sensitivity of the wetland; characteristics of the existing buffer, potential impacts associated with adjacent and proposed land use, and other existing regulation which may control the proposed activity. Extension or reduction in required buffer widths may be imposed according to these factors. Minimum buffer widths are:



Land Use Impact





High Impact

250 ft.

200 ft.

150 ft.

50 ft.

Moderate Impact

190 ft.

150 ft.

110 ft.

40 ft.

Low Impact

125 ft.

100 ft.

75 ft.

25 ft.

Land Use Impacts

Level of Impact from Land Use

Types of Land Uses

High Impact

•    Commercial


•    Industrial


•    Institutional


•    Retail sales


•    Residential if more than 1 unit/acre


•    Conversion to high-intensity agriculture (dairies, nurseries, greenhouses, growing and harvesting crops requiring annual tilling, and raising and maintaining animals, etc.)


•    High-intensity recreation (golf course, ball field, etc.)


•    Hobby farms

Moderate Impact

•    Residential if 1 unit/acre or less


•    Moderate-intensity open space (parks with biking, jogging, etc.)


•    Conversion to moderate-intensity agriculture (orchards, hay fields, etc.)


•    Paved trails


•    Utility corridor or right-of-way shared by several utilities and including access/maintenance road

Low Impact

•    Low-intensity open space (hiking, bird-watching, preservation of natural resources, etc.)


•    Unpaved trails


•    Utility corridor without a maintenance road and little or no vegetation management

(g)    Wetland buffers shall be retained in their natural conditions unless change in a portion of a wetland buffer is proposed that will not have an adverse impact on the wetland, or adequate mitigation cannot or will not be provided by natural conditions. Integrity of the wetland shall be maintained as a function of the buffer.

(h)    Buffer Averaging.

(1)    Standard buffer widths may be modified by the planning director to allow for buffer averaging to improve wetland protection and may be permitted when all of the following conditions are met:

(A)    The wetland has significant differences in characteristics that affect its habitat functions, such as a wetland with a forested component adjacent to a degraded emergent component or a “dual-rated” wetland with a Category I area adjacent to a lower-rated area.

(B)    The buffer is increased adjacent to the higher-functioning area of habitat or more sensitive portion of the wetland and decreased adjacent to the lower-functioning or less sensitive portion.

(C)    The total area of the buffer after averaging is equal to the area required without averaging.

(D)    The buffer at its narrowest point is never less than three-quarters of the required width and/or twenty-five feet.

(2)    Averaging to allow reasonable use of a parcel may be permitted when all of the following are met:

(A)    There are no feasible alternatives to the site design that could be accomplished without buffer averaging.

(B)    The averaged buffer will not result in degradation of the wetland’s functions and values as demonstrated by a report from a qualified wetland professional.

(C)    The total buffer area after averaging is equal to the area required without averaging.

(D)    The buffer at its narrowest point is never less than three-quarters of the required width.

(i)    Activities or uses which would strip the shoreline of vegetative cover, cause substantial erosion or sedimentation or affect aquatic life, should be prohibited.

(j)    Construction of structural shoreline stabilization and flood control works should be minimized. New developments should be designed to preclude need for such works and should be compatible with shoreline characteristics and limitations.

(k)    Wetland alteration shall not cause significant adverse impact to wetland ecosystems or surrounding areas.

(l)    Encourage development of an education program promoting the value of wetlands, and that promotes private stewardship of wetland areas. (Ord. 1505 § 6 (part), 2018).