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EPA orders Southwick farm to restore 5.5 acres of wetlands

Release Date: 08/12/2003
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered the owner of a farm in Southwick to restore wetlands that were destroyed more than a decade ago in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

In an administrative order issued this month, EPA's New England office ordered the owner of Calabrese Farms off South Longyard Road to remove fill and restore the water flow, of 5.5 acres of former wetlands that had been filled.

According to the order, owner Thomas Calabrese filled the wetlands in the late 1980s in order to create more farmland after he acquired the 18.7-acre farm from his father.

The order stems from a June inspection of the site by EPA, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The violation was first found by the NRCS in 1994, when the service came to the property for work related to a conservation plan. The NRCS determined that wetland vegetation had been cleared, the site had been dredged or filled and the hydrology had been manipulated through pipes and ditches that diverted water away from the wetlands.

"Wetlands are critical to wildlife habitat, specifically for areas used for cover, nesting and feeding," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England office. "We are pleased that Mr. Calabrese has agreed to carry out this order, which will help restore wetlands that are valuable to wildlife, as well as to preserving the water quality buffer just above a reservoir."

In 1997, the US Army Corps devised a wetland restoration plan. Calabrese had still not carried out this plan as of this year, and the Corps asked EPA to take over the enforcement of the case.