Maps, Forms & Glossary


In the Waterfront Navigator glossary, we’ve compiled regulatory terms and definitions from agency documents, environmental terms you will come across when doing work in wetlands and in coastal areas, and abbreviations used by agencies or on this site. Definitions cite the sources, with links back to original documents or websites for further reference.


The formation of a resistant layer of relatively large particles resulting from removal of finer particles by erosion. (US Army Corps of Engineers, Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory Glossary, 2015)


That land area immediately adjacent to, and which slopes toward, the bed of a watercourse, and which is necessary to maintain the integrity of a watercourse. For purposes of this Part, a bank will not be considered to extend more than 50 feet horizontally from the mean highwater line; with the following exception: where a generally uniform slope of 45 degrees (100 percent) or greater adjoins the bed of the watercourse, the band is extended to the crest of the slope or the first definable break in slope, either a natural or constructed (i.e. road or railroad grade) feature, lying generally parallel to the watercourse. (Rules and Regulations of the State of New York, Title 6. Dept. of Environmental Conservation, Chapter 5. Subchapter E, Part 608. Use and Protection of Waters, Definitions)


1. On a beach a nearly horizontal plateau on the beach face or backshore, formed by the deposition of beach material by wave action or by means of a mechanical plant as part of a beach renourishment scheme. Some natural beaches have no berm, others have several. 2. On a structure: a nearly horizontal area, often built to support or key-in an armor layer. (US Army Corps of Engineers, Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory Glossary, 2015)

Berm breakwater

Rubble mound structure with horizontal berm of armor stones at about sea level, which is allowed to be (re)shaped by the waves. (US Army Corps of Engineers, Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory Glossary, 2015)

Biogeochemical transformations

Those changes in chemical compounds and substances which naturally occur in ecosystems. Examples are the carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycles in nature, in which these elements are incorporated from inorganic substances into organic matter and recycled on a continuing basis. (Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, Title 23, Part 777, March 2016)


A wet, spongy, poorly drained area which is usually rich in very specialized plants, contains a high percentage of organic remnants and residues, and frequently is associated with a spring, seepage area, or other subsurface water source. (US Army Corps of Engineers, Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory Glossary, 2015)

Brackish water

Generally, water containing dissolved minerals in amounts that exceed normally acceptable standards for municipal, domestic, and irrigation uses. Considerably less saline that sea water. Also, Marine and Estuarine waters with Mixohaline salinity (0.5 to 30 due to ocean salts). Water containing between 1,000-4,000 parts per million (PPM) Total Dissolved Solids TDS. The term brackish water is frequently interchangeable with Saline Water. (Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve, Hudson River Shoreline Restoration Alternatives Analysis, 2006)

CEQR (City Environmental Quality Review)

CEQR is New York City's process for implementing SEQRA, and cannot be less stringent than its state counterpart. CEQR adapts and refines the state rules to take into account the special circumstances of New York City. CEQR is governed by SEQRA, NYC's Executive Order No. 91 (43 RCNY, Chapter 6), and the CEQR Rules of Procedure (62 RCNY, Chapter 5). (NYC Mayor's Office of Sustainability)

Clean Water Act (CWA)

Previously known as the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq). The goal of the Act is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of waters of the United States. The term "waters of the United States" includes wetlands (40 CPR Part 230.3 [s]). Section 404 of the CW A addresses wetlands, and its authorities are implemented through a permit program. (US EPA, Wetlands Regulation Guidebook for New York State, 1993)

Coastal fresh marsh (FM)

The tidal wetland zone, designated FM on an inventory map, found primarily in the upper tidal limits of riverine systems where significant fresh water inflow dominates the tidal zone. Species normally associated with this zone include narrow leaved cattail, Typha angustifolia the tall bracklish water cordgrasses, Spartina pectinata and/or S. cynosuroides; and the more typically emergent fresh water species such as arrow arum, Peltandra; pickerel weed, Pondederia; and cutgrass, Leersia. (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation)

Coastal shoals, bars and flats (SM)

The tidal wetland zone, designated SM on an inventory map, that (i) at high tide is covered by water, (ii) at low tide is exposed or is covered by water to a maximum depth of approximately one foot, and (iii) is not vegetated by low marsh cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora, except as otherwise determined in a specific case as provided in 6 CRR-NY 661.16. (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation)

Compensatory mitigation

The restoration (re-establishment or rehabilitation), establishment (creation), enhancement, and/or in certain circumstances preservation of aquatic resources for the purposes of offsetting unavoidable adverse impacts which remain after all appropriate and practicable avoidance and minimization has been achieved. (US Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 47, 2007)

Conditional Negative Declaration

A lead agency's written statement and determination that an action may have a significant adverse effect on the environment, but that all such effects can be eliminated or avoided by specific changes in the action or mitigation imposed by the lead agency, if implemented. To issue a conditional negative declaration, the action must be unlisted and involve an applicant. 6 NYCRR.617.2(h). (NYC Mayor's Office of Sustainability)

Cumulative effects

The combined environmental impacts that accrue over time and space from a series of similar or related individual actions, projects, or contaminants. Although each action may seem to have a negligible impact by itself, the combined effect can be severe. (US EPA, Wetlands Regulation Guidebook for New York State, 1993)