From helping control floods to serving as natural buffers against water pollution to providing recreational opportunities and habitat for fish and wildlife, wetlands offer benefits almost too numerous to count. Members of the public can help the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency protect these vital areas by reporting suspected violations of the federal laws that protect wetlands in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the areas that comprise EPA Region 2. Violations can now be easily reported on EPA’s website at http://www.epa.gov/region02/water/wetlands/violations.html.
“Clean water is a vital natural resource and its protection is directly tied to preserving wetlands and other bodies of water,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “This website will give the public the ability to report possible violations of wetlands protection rules before significant damage has been done to a wetland.”
Once a suspected violation is submitted on the website, EPA scientists will perform an investigation to determine if regulatory action is required. Wetlands are protected by the federal Clean Water Act, and the Corps of Engineers – or in many instances a state or territory – must issue a permit before a wetland can be impacted. EPA works in partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers, the states and territories to oversee and enforce wetlands regulations. Suspected violations can be submitted anonymously, though a lack of contact information may hinder EPA’s ability to proceed with an investigation.
EPA Region 2 boasts a diversity of tidal and freshwater wetlands, including mangrove swamps and salt flats in the Caribbean, tidal salt marshes of the New York and New Jersey coasts, and coastal freshwater wetlands of the Great Lakes region. Interior regions also have a diversity of freshwater wetlands including swamps, bogs, fens, wet meadows, and marshes. Notably large wetland complexes in the region include the New Jersey Pinelands, the Hackensack Meadowlands and New York’s Great Swamp.