Locating Suitable Sites to Construct Wetlands

Publication Date


Committee Chair

Karen K. Kemp, Ph.D.

Committee Members

Timothy Krantz, Ph.D.
Greg Deucker


Historically, wetlands in Southwestern regions were regarded by most settlers as wastelands, whose best use could be attained through their destruction or alteration. Wetlands were drained, dredged, and filled for more valuable agricultural, residential, commercial, and recreational uses. The environmental functions which wetlands provide were not well understood or valued some 30 years ago. With the increase of public interest in wetlands, the federal government passed laws, such as Section 404 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (later amended as the Clean Water Act), which protects existing wetlands. Over time additional local, state, and federal laws have been added to further restrict avoidable disturbance to wetlands.

Wetland systems have demonstrated significant benefits in improving water quality and habitat creation. Wetlands have created valuable and important amenities to their communities and are examples of cost-effective and environmentally sound wastewater management. Both surface and subsurface constructed wetland systems are being built and investigated as viable wastewater treatment options. Agencies believe that construction of multipurpose wetlands may help with the water quality and create critical habitat areas that will enhance the Santa Ana River Basin. The crucial component for construction is location. The purpose of the project is to identify suitable sites for multipurpose wetlands. A model is built to identify potential sites that are suitable for construction based on certain criteria identified by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority.

Doing the analysis for the whole watershed would be a significant project, but to narrow the analysis to a focused area gave a better understanding for the whole Santa Ana River watershed. Performing a Pilot Study on two or three areas allowed testing of the data’s availability and its quality. Pilot study areas lessoned the errors and allowed more flexibility in the methods and efforts of the analysis.

We began with extensive research for any historical data, such as USGS Topographic maps which are dated at the turn of the century. Other data such as hydrology layers, soils layer, and any other layers, or shape files that are associated with wetlands were collected. A Geo- Database was constructed to organize all the data that was accumulated. Spatial Analysis was used to conduct the process for locating the best sites to construct wetlands.

Full text is available at the University of Redlands


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