How Wetlands Are Determined
Wetlands can be tidal, such as the salt marshes along the Nansemond River, and are waters affected daily by tidal changes. The varying salinity of tidal wetlands means only the most adaptive plants survive, which is why many wetlands are, or have, mud or sand flats. Suffolk also has non-tidal wetlands composed of fresh water, either seasonally or perpetually wet, such as Chapel Swamp in the Village of Holland.
Additionally, wetlands can be vegetated or non-vegetated. Under Chapter 13 of Title 28.2
of the State Code, vegetative wetlands are those which are between Mean Low Water (MLW) and an elevation above MLW equal to 1.5 times the mean tide range, generally to the beginning of the upland buffer, and have any of the listed wetland plant species outlined in the Virginia Wetlands Act. Non-vegetated wetlands are between MLW and Mean High Water (MHW) but without vegetation, such as mudflats or sand beaches.