Settlement Will Result in Wetlands Restoration in Scarborough, Maine Area
SCARBOROUGH, MAINE – In a recent settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice, a group of related companies have agreed to perform wetland restoration and pay a fine as the result of EPA and DOJ allegations that the companies illegally filled wetlands on a 22-acre site in Scarborough, Maine in violation of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). Maietta Enterprises, Inc., Maietta Construction, Inc., and M7 Land Co. LLC will perform approximately $850,000 worth of wetland restoration and mitigation and pay a $25,00 penalty under a proposed Consent Decree.
Starting in the 1960s, the companies continuously used the site as a material staging and reprocessing area for Maietta Construction Inc.'s earthwork operations. Maietta Construction filled approximately 10 wetland acres falling under the jurisdiction of the CWA on the site. Prior to disturbance, these wetlands were mainly forested freshwater wetlands with a mixture of coniferous and hardwood trees and were adjacent to an unnamed tributary to the Spurwink River, a navigable waterway that runs through the Rachael Carson National Wildlife Refuge.
Freshwater wetlands, such as those impacted by the unpermitted filling, are vital to protecting the integrity of our nation's waters and help to protect the health and safety of people and their communities by providing a natural filtration system for pollution before it gets into our rivers, lakes and ponds, and by preventing flooding after storms. Wetlands also provide valuable wildlife habitat, offering breeding and feeding grounds for a broad array of fish, birds and other wildlife. Converting large areas of natural wetlands to other uses can profoundly alter natural flood mitigation properties and undermine the pollutant-filtering abilities of wetlands while reducing important habitat.
"Protecting wetlands is important because these ecological areas provide valuable functions such as protecting and improving water quality, and helping to buffer floods and major storm events," said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deborah Szaro. "When we lose wetlands, our communities lose resources that feed the rivers, lakes and streams we depend on to provide sources of food, transportation, and recreational opportunities."
The restoration will involve removing fill and restoring about five acres of previously forested wetlands, creating a plant buffer between areas of remaining fill and restored areas, restoring and enhancing 1.2 wetland acres by managing invasive species and removing fill, mitigating some 7.7 adjacent acres of forested wetlands, in part by plugging drainage ditches and managing invasive species, and establishing a 14.5 acre conservation easement to preserve the wetlands in perpetuity.
The proposed Consent Decree was filed in federal District Court in Portland, Maine, on May 14, 2021. The settlement agreement is subject to a thirty day public comment period and court approval. A copy of the Consent Decree will be available on DOJ's website at: https://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees .
EPA information on wetlands: https://www.epa.gov/wetlands