2021 ALTA Survey Requirements – Delineation of Wetlands Eliminated

With the adoption of the revised Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for the ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey, effective February 23, 2021, there have been clarifications, definition additions and deletions within the listing of Optional Table A Items.

Modifications to Table A Items

Slight modifications have been made in the ALTA Survey Requirements for Table A Items:

  • 6(a)
  • 6(b)
  • 11
  • 18 (formerly 19)

Table A Items 10b (identifying whether certain walls are plumb) and 18 (delineation of wetlands) have been eliminated completely. The elimination of these two items has resulted in former Item 10(a) to now be identified as Item 10, and former Items 19, 20 and 21 to be renumbered as 18, 19 and 20.

Deletion of Former Table A Item 18: Wetlands

Within the 2021 ALTA Survey Requirements revision the most notable change has been the deletion of former Table A Item 18, the delineation of wetlands on the surveyed property. The joint committee of ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey made the decision to delete this as a standard option as it is unrelated to title issues and became a confusing issue between the surveyor and the client’s expectations.

Surveyors Do Not Determine Wetlands

The actual delineation of a wetland is not within the realm of a surveyor’s expertise. To determine whether there are wetlands within a property boundary, a wetland specialist and/or an environmental engineer needs to be retained to study the soil and plant life on the property to determine whether the property is impacted. The original intent of former ALTA Survey Requirements Item 18 was for the client to hire a specialist to do this study and set wetland delineation markings followed by the surveyor observing and noting the location of these markings.

Under the 2016 standards, transaction parties would request the inclusion of former ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey Table A Item 18 and surveys would frequently be delivered with notations from the surveyor stating: “at the time of survey no wetland delineation markings were observed.” This presented a question as to whether the surveyor provided such a note because there were no wetlands on the property or because no study was performed? The answer is not the surveyor’s call leading to confusion. When included, the client had to provide coordination between the wetland specialist and the surveyor and often this did not occur.

Surveyors Do Report Water Features

Per the Minimum Standard Detail Requirements in Section 5. G., surveyors will continue to report any water feature on, running through or within five feet of the boundary line observed in the process of conducting the field work that could possibly indicate a wetland restriction. Determining whether a water feature is subject to a wetland restriction is not a matter of survey.

How to Address Wetland Matters on the Survey

If these wetland matters need to be addressed on the survey, they can still be included by negotiating a definition under blank Table A Item 20. As a definition would need to be negotiated between the client and the surveyor, a clearer outline of each party’s responsibilities and expectations could be determined to satisfy the client’s need and the surveyor’s limitations.

For more information on the 2021 ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey Minimum Standards Optional Table A Items or other NV5/Bock & Clark commercial real estate due diligence services, please contact us at 1-800-787-8397 ext. 835.