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EPA Orders Massachusetts Developer to Restore Damaged Wetlands

Release Date: 08/20/2009
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1027

(Boston—August 20, 2009) EPA has ordered a Massachusetts real estate developer to restore approximately 6.3 acres of freshwater wetlands in Rockland, Mass. The wetlands were altered as part of a plan to prepare the site for commercial development.

The real estate developer, Ernesto Caparrotta, owns about 12.3 acres of land off Hingham Street in Rockland. Beginning in September of 2004 and continuing through February, 2005, Mr. Caparrotta and workers operating under his direction grubbed, graded, filled, and altered approximately 6.3 acres of wetlands to prepare roads for site development. EPA alleges that Mr. Caparrotta failed to obtain a federal permit under the Clean Water Act (CWA) authorizing the discharges of dredged and fill material into the wetlands. Under the CWA, persons wishing to discharge dredged and/or fill material into wetlands must, in most cases, obtain permits from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Under the Administrative Order Mr. Caparrotta is required to restore the disturbed 6.3 acres of wetland to its previous state. Restoration activities will consist of removing approximately 700 truckloads of fill material, restoring topography and hydrology in disturbed areas and reseeding these areas with an herbaceous wetland seed mixture.

Wetlands provide large volumes of food that attract many animal species. These animals use wetlands for part of or all of their life-cycle. Dead plant leaves and stems break down in the water to form organic material which feeds many small aquatic insects and small fish that are food for larger predatory fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. These particular wetlands abut Ben Mann Brook, which flows through the nearby property of the Abington-Rockland Waterworks, to several other waters and ultimately to the North River and the Atlantic Ocean.

In addition to providing valuable wildlife habitat, wetlands also help to protect the health and safety of people and their communities. Wetlands filter and clean water by trapping sediments and removing pollutants. Wetlands also provide buffers against floods as they store enormous amounts of flood water. Wetlands also store and slowly release water over time, helping to maintain water flow in streams, especially during dry periods.

More information: Enforcing wetlands requirements in New England ( )