Taking water from protected wetlands is illegal and the new conservation agent in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, is warning area landscapers their activities in and around wetlands is being monitored. Companies that take water from the areas will be subject to fines and possibly other legal action.
The conservation agent, Katie Messer, told the Lowell Sun that under the state’s Wetlands Protection Act, “any activity that will fill, dredge, alter or remove material from a wetland resource area or its buffer zones requires review and permitting from the Conservation Commission.”
According to Messer, landscapers have been seen using hoses to pump water from Chelmsford area wetlands. The water is being used to clean the landscapers’ equipment and sometimes to mix a slurry for hydroseeding – a process in which a mixture of seed, mulch and water is sprayed over an area.
“We don’t know what’s in those hoses,” Messer told the newspaper, “if there’s fertilizer mixed in with the seeds, and maybe some of it backwashes back into the stream,” she said. What’s more, the hoses can disturb habitats and harm native plants and animals. Materials inside the hoses can reduce oxygen in the water, which leads to fish kills and algae overgrowth.
Messer’s office has sent letters regarding illegal water use to approximately 20 area landscapers.