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Landowners Ordered to Restore Wetlands in Sumner, Washington

Release Date: 08/05/2009
Contact Information: Michael Szerlog, EPA Wetlands Program, (206) 553-0279, szerlog.michael@epa.gov Tony Brown, EPA Public Affairs, (206) 553-1203, brown.anthony@epa.gov

(Sumner, WA – August 5, 2009) Michael and Stacey Ota have been ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency to remove fill material and restore the wetlands on their property located at 3201 West Valley Highway, in Sumner, Washington.

The EPA alleges that the Otas violated the Clean Water Act in 2005 when they placed fill material into four acres of wetlands without the required permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In addition, the Otas must also remove 0.47 acres of fill that was discharged onto the adjacent northern property.

Michael Ota has previously filled wetlands in violation of the Clean Water Act. In 1996, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers required Michael Ota to restore wetlands at this property after approximately 35 acres of wetlands were cleared and filled without the necessary permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Michael Ota voluntarily complied with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by removing the fill and restoring the wetlands.

Wetlands are protected in part because they are essential for fish and other aquatic life survival, according to Tom Eaton, Director of EPA’s Washington Operations Office.

“Landowners who plan to work in wetlands or other aquatic resources must obtain the right permits and follow the requirements to protect these valuable resources,” said EPA’s Eaton.

The Otas have developed a wetland restoration plan which will restore much of the site to a forested wetland. EPA is ordering the Otas to perform the restoration work by November 30, 2009, and perform monitoring at the site until 2019.

Wetlands help maintain water quality characteristics like water temperature, which directly affect fish spawning and rearing. Waters from the wetlands on the Otas property flow into Jovita Creek, which flows into the White River. The White River is a fish bearing stream, and is currently identified by the state as impaired for high water temperatures.

For more information about the Clean Water Act Section 404 wetland regulatory authority, visit: http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/pdf/reg_authority_pr.pdf

For more information about Wetlands protection work, visit:
http://epa.gov/owow/wetlands
http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/functions.html
http://www.usace.army.mil/

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