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1998 News Releases

 

S.L.O. COUNTY TO PAY $240,000 TO SETTLE CREEK DAMAGE CASE

Release Date: 12/23/1998
Contact Information: Dave Schmidt, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1578

         
     San Francisco -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) today announced that the San Luis Obispo County government will pay $240,000 to settle alleged violations of the Clean Water Act which occurred when the county's Public Works Department conducted road and bridge repairs at over 100 sites throughout the county during the 1994/1995 winter storms, causing unacceptable environmental harm to many streams and creeks in the process.

     The environmental damage caused by the county Public Works Department at some of the sites included the direct discharge of fill materials into creek flows, which smothered or impeded the movement of fish and other aquatic species.  At other sites, the county unnecessarily damaged steelhead trout spawning habitat by dumping uncompacted and unvegetated fill materials into streams in an effort to reclaim creek banks.

     "We understand the county's need to repair roads and bridges following storms.  However, the work must be done with care to avoid unecessary damage to fish and wildlife habitats," said Catherine Kuhlman, associate director of U.S. EPA's regional Water Division.  "We hope  this settlement will lead the county to take a more environmentally sensitive approach when working in streams and creeks in the future. We look forward to working with the county to protect the unique aquatic resources of California's Central Coast. "  

     U.S. EPA earlier issued two separate  administrative orders requiring the county to perform environmental remediation and mitigation work and conduct long-term monitoring at the sites where environmental damage was most severe.  The latest of these mitigation projects involves the enhancement of a highly degraded aquatic habitat near the confluence of San Luis Obispo Creek and Perfumo Creek to offset environmental damage caused by the county's work to shore up the Reservoir Canyon bridge.

     The consent agreement, filed in federal court in the Central District of California, settles allegations that the county repeatedly violated Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which prohibits discharging dredged and fill material into waterways without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Such permits include site-specific conditions necessary to minimize environmental damage while making necessary bridge and road repairs in creeks and wetlands.

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