MAY 2009

Illegal construction activities net EPA fines

Wetlands are valuable resources that can’t be altered or filled for convenience sake, a lesson that two land owners in Dutchess County learned recently. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached an agreement with Cogi, LLC and Quaker Hills, LLC to settle violations of wetlands rules under the federal Clean Water Act related to the illegal development of wetlands on their land in Pawling, New York. The companies filled and disrupted part of a large tract of wetlands, which help supply New York City’s drinking water. In the settlement, the two companies will pay a $50,000 fine, and create two acres of new wetlands and a new stream.

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For more information on EPA’s New York City watershed protection work, visit their site.

“Wetlands are particularly critical when it comes to filtering water that is used as drinking water and EPA remains vigilant in protecting New York City’s drinking water supply,” said acting regional administrator George Pavlou. “Wetlands help filter out contaminants, and even small sections are important, particularly in this case, where much of the water filtering through these wetlands ends up at the taps of eight million people in New York City.”

The companies filled in a 0.75-acre portion of wetlands and relocated a 630-foot segment of a stream without first getting proper authorization, which would have required them to assess alternatives to destroying the wetlands and also ways to make up for their loss, if deemed unavoidable.

The wetlands and stream are part of a 20-acre wetland near Brady Brook, a stream that flows to the east branch of the Croton River and the Great Swamp wetlands. The portion either filled or, in the case of the stream, moved is located at Cogi Farm, an equestrian center in Pawling, New York. Cogi, LLC and Quaker Hills, LLC, own the property on which Cogi Farm sits. The owners violated the Clean Water Act when building a level field for equestrian activities, including polo. The work took place during 2004 and 2005.