For Immediate Release - October 10, 2013

Hampden Country Club Assessed $115,860 Penalty, Required to Restore Impacted Wetland Areas Along Watchaug Brook

BOSTON - The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has issued a penalty of $115,860 to Hampden Country Club, LLC for violations of wetlands and waterways regulations resulting from construction activities that occurred on club property from late 2012 to the present. Under a settlement with MassDEP, the country club is required to complete restoration of all rivers, streams, ponds and freshwater wetlands that were altered without permits during construction.

In response to a complaint, MassDEP conducted an inspection of the site adjacent to Watchaug Brook in Hampden on Dec. 24, 2012. MassDEP observed that golf course reconstruction activity, involving heavy equipment was occurring within the brook without a wetlands permit from the town. The country club also failed to secure federal and state wetland permits as required. In January 2013, MassDEP issued an order ceasing all work in regulated resource areas and requiring site stabilization to prevent erosion.

Further investigation by MassDEP staff, in coordination with representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, discovered significant alterations and loss of resource areas at the site. Hampden Country Club had opened up substantial acreage of unstable and excavated soils, filled in and placed segments of Watchaug Brook within a pipe, filled wetlands, altered ponds, impacted Riverfront Area and discharged muddy water into Watchaug Brook.

The final settlement with MassDEP requires the country club to retain the services of a consulting firm with expertise in resource area restoration to develop detailed site plans depicting existing and proposed grades. The plan must also include a full delineation of all water resources, requires dye tests to determine direction of flow for piped resources, must disclose all water resource area impacts by site activities and must include a comprehensive plan for full restoration of impacted water resources.  

Additionally, the agreement requires the restoration of sections of Watchaug Brook that had been recently or historically piped, to a natural channel with adjacent wetlands. The order also requires restoration of Riverfront Area previously disturbed and protection for vernal pools at the site. Restoration work must be conducted during the fall of 2013.  

"MassDEP regularly provides up-front permitting guidance on large projects in order to layout various permitting requirements and items of concern requiring resolution prior to issuance of permits," said Brian D. Harrington, Deputy Regional Director in MassDEP's Western Regional Office in Springfield. "However, for those companies that choose to ignore the regulations, work without permits and put sensitive resource areas in jeopardy, MassDEP will impose appropriate monetary penalties and require restoration."

MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills, and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.