Requested by Gal Potashnick, Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust, Outreach & Member Services Director;
For Immediate Release: January 14, 2022
Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust
Clean Water Act Settlement Put to Work for Local Conservation
BETHLEHEM, NH – Community Action Works (formerly Toxics Action Center) and Conservation Law Foundation announced the settlement of their federal Clean Water Act lawsuit against Casella Waste Systems, Inc., and North Country Environmental Services, Inc., for the discharge of pollutants from the companies’ Bethlehem Landfill into the Ammonoosuc River.
The parties’ settlement agreement was signed and entered by U.S. District Judge Paul Barbadoro on January 11.
Under the terms of the settlement, Casella and NCES have two years to apply for all necessary permits to perform removal of contaminated sediments and site restoration work at the large seep and drainage channel located between the Landfill and the Ammonoosuc River. They then have one year to complete the cleanup project.
In addition, as part of the settlement, Casella and NCES are required to make a $50,000 payment to fund “projects designed to promote restoration, preservation, protection, and/or enhancement of water quality in the Ammonoosuc River watershed.”
The Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust (ACT) was chosen by the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and Community Action Works, as a locally recognized and respected community organization, to partner with them by taking responsibility for the use of the settlement funds. “ACT will use these funds and any other settlement funds that come from our continued partnership with CLF to protect the Ammonoosuc watershed and the people who depend on it” said Rosalind Page, ACT’s Executive Director.
“It seems only right that an organization like ACT, filled with people who live and work in this often-forgotten part of the state, should have the opportunity to assure the money goes directly to preserving the environment that our communities, families and future generations call home” she said.
ACT’s mission statement calls for protecting the natural world, including clean water for all. “We intend to do that with these funds,” Page continued, “just as we do with other grants we receive from sources like the NH Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund which came from penalties imposed on companies and corporations that broke environmental laws leading to ground water contamination.”
For many years, ACT has worked locally to protect water quality and drinking water through deliberate and high-impact conservation projects in the region. About a third of their now 34 conserved properties have water quality conservation as part of the project impacts. You can find these projects from Bethlehem downriver to Bath and Haverhill. Most recently, in 2020, ACT conserved property in Bath which sits directly next to the intake well for the entire town’s drinking water. These settlement funds will be put toward continuing the conservation of properties along the Ammonoosuc River and its tributaries.
Though water quality and protection have always been part of ACT’s mission the organization sees this as an opportunity to focus more intentionally on water quality education and to help shed light on the many ways to address the critical issue of water protection.
The Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust inspires and leads private, voluntary action to conserve the land the North Country loves. Learn more at act-nh.org or by calling (603) 823-7777.