State law defines “aquatic lands” as all tidelands, shorelands, harbor areas, and the beds of navigable waters. Issues regarding everything from ownership boundaries and aquaculture leases to shoreline development often require the services of a professional surveyor.
Proposals for the use of state-owned aquatic lands, with a few exceptions, require prior authorization from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). One of the requirements of authorization is a survey of the leased lands delineating any water dependent physical features as well as the extent of the lease.
Often times in the process of completing a survey of aquatic lands it is necessary to know the shape or contour of the submerged lands. This is most easily obtained through the use of equipment speciﬁcity designed for this purpose. Sounding equipment combined with GPS signals gives us a complete picture of the site and how it can be surveyed or developed.
The DNR application for the installation of a buoy requires a vicinity map, mark ed with the position of the buoy or boatlift, acquired either by a differential corrected Global Positioning System (GPS) measurement or by conventional surveying methods. A licensed surveyor must provide this information, or you must document it as follows:
A. List the anchor position coordinate, with a state plane grid coordinate or a latitude and longitude.
B. Detail the survey method used to mark the position of the buoy or boatlift.
Tideland owners are often concerned about what it is that they actually own since in most cases they are described simply as “Tidelands Abutting”. There can be questions as to the extent of the tidelands side to side (laterally) as well as in extent, that is, how far out. These issues are complex and not easily delineated. The rules for resolving these issues are likewise complex and can involve every tool at a surveyors disposal.