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AG's Office Announces Settlement in 'Largest Wetlands Fill In N.H. History'

Google Earth

The Attorney General’s office has announced a settlement in what it calls the largest illegal wetlands fill in New Hampshire History. The company involved faces up to $1.3 million dollars in state and federal fines, restoration, and "supplemental environmental projects."

Back in 2009 the attorney General’s office discovered that Torromeo Industries – a gravel and paving company in Kingston – had been slowly filling 12 acres of wetlands over several years. Nearly four years later, Assistant Attorney General Evan Mulholland says that the state and the company have reached a settlement with the state that amounts to a $700,000 civil penalty.

If Torromeo restores the wetlands it filled it can keep a third of state fine. Mulholland says such restoration can be surprisingly effective. "If you can remove the fill, the seeds and the substrate, the material of the wetland just grows back right away," he explains, "It actually works, I was surprised too."

In a separate announcement, the EPA says Torromeo has agreed to pay an additional $135,000 dollars and spend $500,000 on a stormwater project in Windham: re-paving the Castleton Function Hall with permeable pavement.

Paid in Stone

As part of the settlement with the Attorney General’s office Torromeo Industries has agreed to pay $300,000 of the penalties to the state in the form of over 8,000 tons in stone. The state will use the fill to stabilize a section of route 4.

Suncook River.jpg
Credit Google Earth
The Suncook River jumped its banks in 2006 and carved itself a new course, an extremely rare event called an "avulsion". The old course of the river is shown on with a dotted yellow line.

The Suncook River in Epsom is encroaching on the road following a 100 year storm that passed through New Hampshire in 2006. The rain caused the river to overflow its banks and carve a new course, changing the way it flowed for almost a mile. 

Mulholland says because of that event the river-bed is still changing. "The instability of the channel is moving upward slowly up route 4, up Leighton Brook as well, and the proposed project will stabilize the river and the brook."

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