Lake County Certified Wetland Specialist ("CWS")

About the CWScertified

A CWS is a wetland professional who passes the CWS exam and meets the minimum qualifications outlined below. A CWS is required for performing (or supervising) wetland delineations and preparing/signing Watershed Development Ordinance (WDO) applications for proposed wetland impacts in Lake County, Illinois. Also, communities seeking Isolated Waters of Lake County (IWLC) certification from the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission (SMC) must have a CWS on staff or retain a CWS consultant. SMC administers the CWS program and maintains the current Lake County Certified Wetland Specialist List (PDF).  

Minimum Qualifications:

Completion of an SMC-approved basic wetland delineation training course (see Delineation training course requirements) and meet the requirements of a), b), or c) below:

a)  Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS) certification by the Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS);

b) Minimum of a Bachelor's degree in a biologic science or earth science and at least one of the following experience criteria:

  • Three (3) years cumulative (full-time) wetlands experience in the Upper Midwest Region on wetland-related projects; or
  • Completion of at least 100 wetland delineation projects in the Upper Midwest; or
  • Minimum of 300 hours spent in field review of wetlands in the Upper Midwest Region.

c) Six (6) years cumulative (full-time) wetlands experience in the Upper Midwest Region on wetland-related projects without a degree type noted in b) above.

CWS Examexam icon

The CWS exam is 60-questions, true/false and multiple choice, covering the wetland provisions and related sections in the WDO. The WDO can be used for reference during the exam (“open book”). The exam can be taken either online or in person at the SMC office. There is no fee for taking the exam.

If you are interested in applying for the Lake County CWS, please submit an electronic file (PDF) of the items below to Juli Crane:

  • Signed cover letter summarizing qualifications
  • Completed CWS application form (2022)
  • Copy of wetland delineation training course certificate;
  • Copy of PWS certificate (if applicable); and
  • Pertinent documentation to support educational and experience qualifications.

Board of Reviews

SMC has a three-member board that reviews the CWS applications. Once the application is approved, we will notify you via e-mail and arrange for you to take the CWS exam. Upon passing the exam, SMC issues a formal letter and CWS certificate. Currently, there is no fee for the initial CWS application process. The CWS certification is valid for a period of three (3) years. To be re-certified, the CWS must provide documentation of a minimum of 24 hours of wetland-related training received over the three-year certification period, along with a $60 payment for the re-certification processing fee.
Questions concerning the Lake County CWS program may be directed to Juli Crane at [email protected].