Mar 04, 2009

Idaho Developers Fined $64,476 for Clean Water Act Violations

Settlement includes eight developers and contractors at four construction sites

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 10 settled with eight developers and contractors over Clean Water Act violations at four construction sites near Sandpoint, Idaho. These first-time violators settled EPA’s claims by agreeing to come into compliance and paying penalties ranging from about $7,000 to nearly $15,000.

The violations were discovered in the summer of 2008 during routine EPA construction site inspections. The Sandpoint inspections were part of EPA’s multi-year outreach and enforcement initiative to improve compliance with the storm water permit.

“Construction site operators need to be careful in Northern Idaho, where poorly-managed work on fine soils causes significant erosion problems,” said Kim Ogle, manager of EPA’s compliance unit in Seattle. “Knowing the potential for serious environmental harm has reinforced our commitment to a strong enforcement presence to limit future impacts.”

Under the Clean Water Act, developers and general contractors at construction sites larger than one acre must apply and comply with EPA’s nationwide storm water Construction General Permit. Some operators had failed to apply for permit coverage, which requires that site operators design, install and maintain storm water controls to prevent water pollution. Without these controls, common construction site pollutants such as sediment, oil and grease, and concrete washout can enter nearby waterways. EPA observed violations at all the sites visited, including failure to install and maintain the required erosion and sediment controls.

These cases were settled using the Expedited Settlement Offer policy for the construction sector, which offers quicker settlements and lower fines for first-time violators, and at sites where no environmental harm has yet been observed. Clean Water Act violations that go through a traditional enforcement process can take many months to settle and can result in penalties of up to $37,500 per day, per violation.