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State Water Board issues largest-ever wetlands penalty

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 4, 2009

Contact: Bill Hayden, DEQ
(804) 698-4447
william.hayden@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. -- The State Water Control Board has issued a $145,000 penalty against an Augusta County property owner for destruction of wetlands, the largest wetlands penalty ever imposed by the board.

The civil charge, approved in a consent order at the board's meeting April 27, 2009, cites Arthur J. Fisher for excavating in wetlands without a permit during construction of a house on Quarles Pond in Stuarts Draft. The excavation destroyed the ecological function of the wetlands at the pond, according to the Department of Environmental Quality, which investigated the incident and drafted the consent order.

DEQ said Fisher had been informed in 2003 that a Virginia Water Protection permit would be required before any construction activity took place that would affect the wetlands. However, a DEQ inspection in 2006 discovered extensive excavation work at the site, including unpermitted drainage of portions of the pond.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation has called Quarles Pond the largest intact Shenandoah Valley sinkhole pond in Virginia, dating back 15,000 years. The wetland environment at the pond supported rare plants and insects. The consent order also requires Fisher to restore the wetlands at the pond to the extent feasible and to monitor progress for 10 years.

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