Innovative GIS tool evaluates Virginia wetlands 

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) was recently awarded a 2019 Governor’s Technology Award in the category of “IT as Efficiency Driver – Government to Citizen,” for its online Wetland Condition Assessment (WetCAT) tool. DEQ was among 21 other government organizations recognized for innovative achievement in making government services more efficient to benefit the people of Virginia.

Developed in collaboration with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, WetCAT is designed to evaluate wetland conditions over time through monitoring and assessment. Its purpose is to avoid and assist with the mitigation of wetland losses, and evaluate the overall effectiveness of DEQ’s regulatory program in meeting the commonwealth’s no net loss goal.

“WetCAT can guide policy discussions on general land use management, stormwater and land use planning,” said DEQ Senior Wetland Ecologist Michelle Henicheck. “These features will be essential to achieving Virginia’s statutory requirement of no net loss of wetland acreage and function, and aid local governments with planning tools at the local as well as watershed level.”

WetCAT looks at the status of the commonwealth’s wetland resources and uses a comprehensive coverage of all mapped, non-tidal wetlands to achieve a GIS-based analysis that measures wetland quality. The public interface allows users to overlay data – such as previously permitted impacts, impaired waters, land use, wetland habitat and water quality conditions – and run various analyses to visualize cumulative impacts, flow and drainage areas.  

The goal of the agency’s wetlands program is to conserve wetland acreage and function through its permit process. Where impacts occur, compensation is required to ensure no net loss of existing wetlands acreage and function. DEQ is committed to further developing technology that will facilitate the agency’s work in protecting and enhancing Virginia’s environment.

More information on DEQ’s WetCAT tool is available on the agency website.  


About DEQ

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality protects and enhances Virginia’s environment and promotes the health and well-being of the citizens of the commonwealth. We are committed to cleaner water, improved air quality and the productive re-use of contaminated land.