EPA has ordered the owners of Meredith Farm to restore wetlands and streams on its 160-acre plot in Topsfield, Mass. The wetlands were excavated and filled between 2006 and 2007 while the farm’s drainage system was expanded - widening and deepening a stream channel, and creating a pond.
Christopher and Bonnie Nash violated the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) by failing to obtain the required federal permit from the Army Corps of Engineers before performing work in the wetlands. Under the Clean Water Act, persons who discharged dredged and/or fill material into wetlands must obtain, in most cases, a federal permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.
EPA’s order requires Mr. and Mrs. Nash to restore the drainage system to its pre-construction size, remove the dredged ”fill” material and remove the drain leading to the pond. After this has been accomplished, the disturbed wetland areas must be seeded with a wetland conservation seed mix and be allowed to revert back to their natural wetland state. Prior to their alteration, the wetlands and waterways located on Meredith Farm formed a system of forested and scrub-shrub wetlands that flowed directly into the Ipswich River. Restoring the wetlands will have a positive ecological impact on wetlands in the area and the Ipswich River.
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.
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 (epa.gov/ne/enforcement/wetlands)