Storm water and erosion control regulatory enforcement has a tough act to follow in 2012. In 2011, courts across the nation sent strong messages—guilty verdicts, fines, work orders and even jail time—reinforcing to the construction industry the importance of implementing best management practices (BMPs) to protect water quality.
In December, for instance, the New York State Supreme Court made an example of a development company and its CEO. It found the defendants guilty of criminal and civil contempt for failing to fulfill orders to comply with storm water permit requirements (executing site stabilization measures, hiring a qualified site inspector and submitting retention pond evaluation plans). The guilty parties now must pay tens of thousands of dollars in penalties, some of which will go toward bringing the site in question into regulatory compliance.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens praised the court’s ruling, and I echo his sentiments. Individuals and businesses who ignore or evade storm water and erosion control requirements on their active work sites must face consequences. BMPs are an inherent cost of doing business, and ultimately they protect invaluable water resources: They are not nice, they are necessary.
How is permit enforcement taking shape in your area? Please share your comments and any interesting court cases with Water & Wastes Digest.