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EPA orders co.’s to comply with Clean Water Act to restore wetlands in Rincón

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it has taken an enforcement action against Calrincón Corp. and Karimar Construction Inc. for discharging fill material into wetlands without a permit in the Municipality of Rincón, Puerto Rico.

“Building on wetlands without permits causes flooding, destroys important wildlife habitats and decreases the quality of life for communities,” said Lisa F. Garcia, EPA regional administrator. “EPA will enforce the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws to protect public health and the environment.”

Karimar Construction discharged fill material into wetlands on Calrincón’s property without the required Clean Water Act (CWA) permit, the EPA said. Using mechanized equipment, Karimar placed approximately 8 feet of fill material above the existing grade in approximately 0.89 acres of wetlands. 

EPA has ordered Karimar to remove the fill material placed on wetlands within eight months and allow the wetlands to naturally regenerate with native vegetation within five years from March 14.

“Wetland restoration and protection are important to maintain critical wildlife habitat, help meet state and tribal watershed goals and contribute to economic well-being. Through this action, EPA helps in achieving these goals for the benefit of sensitive coastal ecosystems and communities in Rincón,” the agency stated.

“This area of Rincón is vital for recreational purposes and is near Tres Palmas Marine Reserve, a marine reserve established in 2004 through community-driven efforts that protect the Tres Palmas surfing break, along with endangered coral species,” it added.

The CWA was established in 1972 to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of U.S. rivers, lakes and streams, as well as some of the more fragile and vital wetland habitats.

CWA’s Section 404 requires a permit from the secretary of the Army, acting through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, before dredged or fill material may be discharged into U.S. waters, including wetlands that are subject to federal jurisdiction.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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