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Rules and Regulations

Draft Revisions to
Freshwater Wetlands Rules

DEM has initiated formal rulemaking to repeal and replace the Rules and Regulations Governing the Administration and Enforcement of the Freshwater Wetlands Act. Please note the public notice periods have been extended and the revised deadline for submittal of comments to DEM is 4:00 pm on Friday, January 22, 2021. Public hearings to be conducted via Zoom will take place on January 6, 2021 beginning at 1:00 pm and as detailed below.

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The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the RI Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) have drafted revised freshwater wetlands rules to implement amendments to state law aimed at strengthening wetlands protection, providing clarity and predictability and streamlining the permitting processes for development and other activities conducted in proximity to freshwater wetlands. Amendments to state law expanded the jurisdiction of DEM and CRMC over lands near freshwater wetland resources and mandated that the Agencies develop a common set of standards for freshwater wetland buffers taking into account resource protection needs, watershed protection needs and existing land use. DEM and CRMC are using the same terms and language in their draft rules with respect to freshwater wetlands protection, including the new buffer standards. However, the rules also have some differences which are necessary to reflect the respective agency procedures and authorities as prescribed in state law. The proposed rules were the subject of a public workshop held on November 23, 2020. The workshop presentation slides are available for viewing below.

Notice of Public Hearings

UPDATE: The public hearings on the proposed rulemaking for Rules and Regulations Governing the Administration and Enforcement of the Freshwater Wetland Act have been rescheduled from December 17, 2020 to Wednesday, January 6, 2021.

The draft freshwater wetlands regulations have advanced to the formal rulemaking process. Public Notices were issued on November 23, 2020 for the Proposed Adoption of the new regulations, 250-RICR-150-15-2, and the associated repeal of the current regulations, 250-RICR-150-15-1. These were updated to extend the public comment period and reschedule the public hearings date. Public Hearings on the proposed actions will be conducted virtually on January 6, 2021 and the Public Comment periods end at 4:00 pm on January 22, 2021. The full Public Notice is available on the Secretary of State Website.

Public Hearings

DATE: Wednesday January 6, 2021
TIME: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm for Proposed Adoption 250-RICR-150-15-2
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm for Repeal 250-RICR-150-15-1
WHERE: These public hearings will be conducted virtually via ZOOM.

Zoom will be utilized to run the workshop. Click to Join Zoom Meeting or please access the meeting using https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83827272319?pwd=YjUrbkVWUWprS3U0UWtyMzA1R1dNUT09 or via the telephone at 1 929 205 6099 US (New York). The Meeting ID is 838 2727 2319 and the Passcode is 480761.

Public Comments:

During the public comment period, written comments may be submitted as follows:

  • Comments provided by email or email attachment should be sent to Carol Murphy @ carol.murphy@dem.ri.gov.
  • Comments provided by mail should be sent to Carol Murphy, Department of Environmental Management, Office of Water Resources, 235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908.
  • Commenters are encouraged to provide reference to specific rule sections as appropriate for clarity.
 

A summary of the major revisions and the proposed rules are available via the links on this page.

General questions about the regulations or the rulemaking process may be addressed to the Office of Water Resources at DEM.WaterResources@dem.ri.gov.

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