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Anchorage man faces up to $177,500 in EPA fines for destroying wetlands and streams

(Seattle-July 13, 2010) David D'Amato faces penalties of up to $177,500 for destroying wetlands and streams at his property in Anchorage, Alaska in violation of the Clean Water Act, according to a complaint from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In September and October 2005, D'Amato used heavy equipment at the Hunter Heights subdivision, located in the Bear Valley area of Anchorage, to dredge 1,300 feet of stream and fill nearly an acre of wetlands on a 29-acre property, according to EPA.

D'Amato performed this work without obtaining the required Clean Water Act permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The unauthorized work allowed D'Amato to access, enlarge and create diversion channels on the property.

In May 2007, EPA issued a compliance order requiring D'Amato to restore the damaged wetlands and streams. D'Amato has not yet performed the restoration work. D'Amato continued to dredge and fill the streams and wetlands at his property through at least July 2008.

"When a property owner ignores his obligation to build housing developments responsibly, Alaska's environment takes the hit," said Michael Szerlog, manager of EPA's Aquatic Resources Unit in Seattle. "There are real consequences-environmental and legal-from skirting the law."

The damaged wetlands and streams on the property flow into Little Rabbit Creek, affecting sensitive downstream water bodies including Potter Marsh. Little Rabbit Creek is spawning habitat for several salmon species. Potter Marsh is a premier wildlife viewing area visited by thousands of people each year. There are growing concerns that sediments flowing into Potter Marsh from development on the Anchorage hillside could threaten this valued habitat.

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