Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Water: Wetlands


Where water meets land
Where water meets land
Where water meets land

What they are

Wetlands are part of the foundation of our nation's water resources and are vital to the health of waterways and communities that are downstream. Wetlands feed downstream waters, trap floodwaters, recharge groundwater supplies, remove pollution, and provide fish and wildlife habitat. Wetlands are also economic drivers because of their key role in fishing, hunting, agriculture and recreation.

Wetlands include swamps, marshes and bogs. Wetlands vary widely because of differences in soils, topography, climate, hydrology, water chemistry, vegetation, and other factors.

Wetlands are often found alongside waterways and in flood plains. However, some wetlands have no apparent connection to surface water like rivers, lakes or the ocean, but have critical groundwater connections.

Why they are valuable

Wetlands are recognized as important features in the landscape that provide numerous beneficial services for people and for fish and wildlife. Some of these services, or functions, include protecting and improving water quality, providing fish and wildlife habitats, storing floodwaters, and maintaining surface water flow during dry periods. These beneficial services, considered valuable to societies worldwide, are the result of the inherent and unique natural characteristics of wetlands.

How EPA protects them

The EPA's Wetlands Program is dedicated to protecting one of the most important ecosystems in the world. Wetlands protection programs are most effective when coordinated with other surface and ground-water protection programs and with other resource management programs, such as flood control, water supply, protection of fish and wildlife, recreation, control of stormwater, and nonpoint source pollution.

Jump to main content.