Answer:Generally speaking, wetlands are areas in the landscape where water is normally at or within 12 inches of the surface for at least 14 consecutive days during the growing season. This means tat wetlands are not wet all the time.  They are, however, wet long enough to establish wetland vegetation and soil characteristics.  For regulatory purposes, wetland professionals (a.k.a. "wetland delineators") use the 1987 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual and Regional Supplements to delineate (i.e., identify) wetland boundaries. 

Wetland Types
While there are multiple ways to describe wetlands, WCA classifies eight different wetland types. Most people recognize wetlands with cattails and lily pads, but some wetland types are not as obvious, including seasonal wetlands and forested wetlands. Please see BWSR's publication for descriptions of the eight wetland types

Other Wetland Classification Systems Include:
• Eggers and Reed
• Cowardin

Wetland Benefits
Wetlands offer many benefits, including:

• Water quality, including filtering pollutants out of surface water and groundwater, using nutrients that would otherwise pollute public waters, trapping sediments, protecting shoreline, and recharging groundwater supplies;
• Floodwater and storm water retention, including reducing the potential for flooding in the watershed;
• Public recreation and education, including hunting and fishing areas, wildlife viewing areas, and nature areas;
• Commercial benefits, including wild rice and cranberry growing areas and aquaculture areas;
• Fish and wildlife benefits; and
• Low-flow augmentation during times of drought.