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Univ. of Maine Ordered to Restore Wetlands at Orono Campus

Release Date: 10/12/2010
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – Oct. 12, 2010) – EPA has ordered the University of Maine to restore wetlands on its campus in Orono Maine. The wetlands were filled between 1984 and 2009 during the construction of buildings, roads, and parking areas; installation of culverts; expansion of a landfill; and disposal of snow and associated debris.

The University violated the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) by failing to obtain the required federal permit from the Army Corps of Engineers before filling the wetlands.

Before being filled, the wetlands served valuable functions such as groundwater recharge, pollutant retention, and wildlife habitat. 

EPA’s order requires removal of approximately 2 acres of a landfill and snow dump and restoration of the underlying wetland. It also requires restoration of approximately one acre of forested wetland that the University had converted to a livestock paddock. To compensate for some fill that cannot be removed, the University will restore and enhance 3.66 acres of a currently farmed area that includes wetlands and an upland buffer. 

The University has worked cooperatively with EPA once the violations were brought to its attention and has agreed to the terms of the order. The University has indicated that it will involve students and faculty in the restoration effort to maximize its benefit as a learning experience.

Wetlands provide valuable habitat for many species of wildlife. They also help to protect the health and safety of people and their communities. They filter and clean water by trapping sediments and removing pollutants, and they provide buffers against floods by storing 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 (www.epa.gov/ne/enforcement/wetlands)
- General information on Wetlands (http://water.epa.gov/type/wetlands/index.cfm)

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