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Officials Picking Brains on Wetland Restoration Near Ex-landfill in Tewksbury

October 5, 2018

Lauren Bennett, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, speaks about the Sutton Brook Superfund Site in Tewksbury at Thursday's Natural Resource Trustee Council meeting. SUN/KORI TUITT Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

TEWKSBURY -- Members of the Natural Resource Trustee Council for the Sutton Brook Superfund Site gave a presentation on the 100-acre former landfill Thursday night.

The purpose of the meeting was to seek the public’s ideas for potential plans to restore the area’s wetland and stream habitats, as well as groundwater resources.

While only one resident attended the meeting, Karen Pelto, of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, and Lauren Bennett, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said they are excited to move forward and are confident they will receive more input.

“I think we had great questions and the town has a lot of projects in mind,” Pelto said.

There is up to $1.65 million in available funds for the future ecological and groundwater restoration projects. Bennett explained the types of project proposals that could be considered, as well as those that would not qualify.

“They need to be in the Shawsheen River watershed and ideally we’re looking to find projects within the Sutton Brook sub-watershed within the Shawsheen,” Bennett said, adding that is what they are looking for especially in terms of the ecological restoration projects.

There are a number of wetland projects that could be considered, like land protection, restoring wetland hydrology and removing invasive plant species. Some stream and river restoration projects that would qualify, include reducing stormwater runoff, removing dams, and replacing road crossings that become barriers for fish and other wildlife movement.

Among the projects that will not be considered are those activities requiring a law or permit, like site cleanup. Projects that do not restore the same or similar resources, like playgrounds, recycling programs or community gardens, also will not be considered.

Between now and March 2019, the Natural Resource Trustee Council will evaluate the proposed restoration projects, and prepare to draft a plan between March and May 2019. In the summer or fall of next year, the council expects to have a draft resolution plan and another public meeting. The final plan is anticipated to be published by winter 2019.

The Superfund Site, located off South Street, began being used for waste disposal at least since 1957. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website, when the landfill closed, it was accepting more than 250 tons of waste daily. It was ordered to close in 1982, but continued accepting waste up until 1988. The site was placed on the National Priorities List in 2001.

Bennett said proposed ideas do not have to be fully developed for submission.

“We’re interested in all ideas, especially at this point in time,” she said.

Project ideas can be submitted in writing to Steve Johnson, MassDEP Northeast, 205B Lowell St., Wilmington, MA 01887, or by email at Stephen.Johnson@state.ma.us . Johnson can also be contacted for more information.

Follow Kori Tuitt on Twitter @KoriTuitt..

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