Wetlands Assessment & Construction

Wetlands are zones of transition between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, possessing characteristics of both environments. These sensitive natural areas provide a variety of important ecosystem services, including naturally improving water quality, essential habitats for sensitive and commercially important organisms, and protection from substantial climatic events. The same biological processes that occur in natural wetlands can be adapted to engineered systems to improve water quality and provide dampening of hydraulic surges from storm events. Constructed wetland treatment systems are designed and engineered to imitate and enhance the functions performed by natural wetland ecosystems.

In cases where wetlands are potentially threatened by land-use activities or other events, Exponent can perform investigations that include the assessment of risks, impacts, development of regulatory strategies, evaluation of wetland creation and restoration alternatives, and implementation of constructed wetlands by directing and overseeing regional contractors. We provide technical support in addition to the knowledge, resources, and expertise necessary to help clients achieve cost-effective management and restoration objectives that earn regulatory and public acceptance.
Exponent’s focus on the big picture and our extensive experience with ecological communities and associated risk, natural resource damage assessment, restoration and development projects, and watershed studies gives our clients the benefit of the breadth of our expertise. Our diverse perspective allows Exponent to synthesize information from a variety of disciplines, including wetland science, biology, chemistry, ecology, landscape architecture, geology, toxicology, zoology, botany, oceanography, hydrology, hydraulics, engineering, and construction.

Exponent staff are experienced in the evaluation of wetland subsidence rates and likelihoods in the context of rising sea levels and factors responsible for competing rates of change in marsh growth and loss. We perform data-driven causal analyses of the impacts to wetlands from multiple alternative stressors, such as petroleum and other environmental chemicals, erosion, saltwater intrusion, salinity regime changes, biological stressors, diseases, drought, marsh die-off, episodic geological events, natural versus artificial sedimentation rates, dredging and canals, boat traffic, sediment relocation, and flooding attributable to storms, historical land use, natural resource extraction, levee construction, and different vegetation types and plant growth rates, among other causes.

We estimate the vulnerability and resilience of wetlands and ecosystem consequences; habitat evaluation and conversion; and assess and quantify wetland ecosystem services, such as fishing, aquaculture, hunting, wildlife viewing, estuarine nurseries, feeding, refuge and reproduction, nutrient cycling and removal, and storm surge protection. We are highly skilled in spatial mapping and analysis of aerial photographs, satellite images, and topographical and bathymetry maps; data compilation from publicly available data sources; quality control; dataset inter-comparison and analysis; two-, three-, and four-dimensional modeling; conceptual model development; and uncertainty estimation. Exponent’s scientist and engineers are able to integrate this expertise to evaluate historical as well as future impacts and provide successful regulatory and publicly accepted outcomes.