MARCH 2011
                                        

Massachusetts developer protects wetlands to settle clean water violations

The owner and general contractor of a residential development in Ayer, Massachusetts, have agreed to pay a penalty of $27,500 and to donate a 7.6 acre parcel to the town to settle Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims that they discharged pollutants into nearby waters without the required stormwater permit and failed to apply for this permit.

According to the agreement signed recently with EPA’s New England office, Crabtree Development will give the town 7.6 acres of the Pingry Hill development. This parcel, which is largely wetlands but also contains some upland areas, will be protected from development and used for educational purposes by the Ayer Conservation Commission.

About 31 acres have already been disturbed in developing Pingry Hill and the entire project is expected to disturb 135 acres.

EPA inspections in June 2009 found stormwater containing sand, dirt, sediment, suspended solids, residues of construction material and turbidity running off the site into nearby waters. At a follow-up inspection in December 2009, many issues had not been corrected.

Although construction began in September 2007, Crabtree did not apply for the required National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Construction Site Activities until January 2010.

“The wetlands being donated to the town have significant environmental value for flood control, pollutant reduction, habitat and education,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “The flood and pollutant control benefits will help offset some of the effects of the development.”

Construction activities (including other land-disturbing activities) that disturb one acre or more are regulated under the NPDES storm water program. In Massachusetts, operators of regulated construction sites are required to develop and implement Storm Water Pollution Plans (SWPPPs) and to obtain permit coverage from EPA prior to commencement of construction activity.