May 17—Maietta Construction Inc. will pay $25,000 in fines and perform wetland restoration projects costing about $850,000 as part of a settlement with the federal government for discharges into a wetland and stream in Scarborough.
The federal government filed a civil action under the Clean Water Act against Maietta Construction Inc., Maietta Enterprises Inc. and M7 Land Co. LLC alleging that the companies used excavators, bulldozers and trucks to discharge dredged and fill material into approximately 10 acres of wetlands on its property at 150 Pleasant Hill Road.
The work was done without a permit and impacted an unnamed tributary of the Spurwink River, which flows through the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and into Saco Bay, according to the civil action filed in federal court last week.
The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of pollutants, including dredged and fill material, into navigable waters except in compliance with permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers.
"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," Deborah Szaro, the Environmental Protection Agency's New England acting regional administrator, said in a statement. "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."
Starting in the 1960s, the Maietta companies used the property on Pleasant Hill Road as a material staging and preprocessing area for its earthwork operations. Maietta Construction filled approximately 10 acres of wetlands in an area that previously consisted mainly of forested freshwater wetlands with a mixture of coniferous and hardwoods trees, the EPA said.
Under the terms of a proposed settlement, Maietta Construction has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $25,000 and immediately cease any discharge of dredged or fill material into water at that site unless authorized by a valid permit under the Clean Water Act.
The company also will do wetland restoration and mitigation "to restore and replace the lost ecological functions and services of the alleged filled and disturbed wetlands," the consent decree states. The EPA says the restoration work will cost about $850,000.
The restoration will involve removing fill and restoring about 5 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, and mitigating 7.7 adjacent acres of forested wetlands, in part by plugging drainage ditches and managing invasive species. It also will establish a 14.5 acre conservation easement to preserve the wetlands in perpetuity.
The settlement agreement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval.