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Highlight 8-4 of the HRS Guidance Manual

HRS section 4.0.2 identifies and categorizes surface water for HRS purposes. Additional guidance on distinguishing among these types of surface waters is provided in Section 8.2.

Rivers include:

  • Perennially flowing waters from point of origin to the ocean or to coastal tidal waters;

  • Wetlands contiguous to perennially flowing waters;

  • Above ground portions of disappearing rivers; 

  • Man-made ditches that perennially flow into other surface water; and 

  • Intermittently flowing waters and contiguous intermittently flowing ditches, in arid or semi­arid areas with less than 20 inches of mean annual precipitation. 

Lakes include: 

  • Natural and man­made lakes (including impoundments) that lie along rivers, but excluding the Great Lakes; 

  • Isolated, but perennial lakes, ponds, and wetlands

  • Static water channels or oxbow lakes contiguous to rivers; 

  • Small rivers, without diking, that merge into surrounding perennially inundated wetlands; and 

  • Wetlands contiguous to water bodies defined as lakes. 

Ocean and ocean­like water bodies include:

  • Ocean areas seaward from the baseline of the Territorial Sea (i.e., seaward from the generalized coastline of the United States); 

  • The Great Lakes; and 

  • Wetlands contiguous to the Great Lakes.

Coastal tidal waters include:

  • Waters that are seaward from mouths of rivers and landward from the baseline of the Territorial Sea (e.g., embayments, harbors, sounds, estuaries, back bays, lagoons, wetlands). 

Surface waters specifically excluded from evaluation as surface water bodies for HRS purposes include:

  • Intermittent rivers in areas with 20 or more inches mean annual precipitation; and 


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