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North Dakota developer fined for discharges of pollutants to Lake Elsie wetlands

Release Date: 09/30/2008
Contact Information: Diane Sipe 303 312-6391; Richard Mylott 303 312-6654

Northeast Ridge Development Company to pay $15,000

(Denver, Colo. -- September 30, 2008) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached an agreement with David J. Paulson and the Northeast Ridge Development Company (Northeast Ridge) in which the company will pay a $15,000 fine for unauthorized discharges of dredged and fill material to wetlands adjacent to Lake Elsie, near Hankinson, ND. In addition to the fine, Northeast Ridge is responsible for all costs necessary to restore the impacted wetlands.

EPA issued a complaint to Northeast Ridge for discharges of dredged and fill material to Lake Elsie and its adjacent wetlands without a permit, a violation of the Clean Water Act. The unauthorized discharges occurred on a 17-acre property where the company intended to develop a marina and residential subdivision on Lake Elsie's north shore, two miles southwest of Hankinson, ND. Northeast Ridge's unauthorized activities impaired or destroyed approximately 1.5 acres of wetlands.


“EPA is taking this action to deter future violations of laws that protect North Dakota's water resources,” Michael Gaydosh, EPA's Assistant Regional Administrator in Denver. "In addition to providing habitat for birds and wildlife, Lake Elsie's wetlands play important roles in maintaining water quality and providing for water storage and flood attenuation."


In 2005, EPA filed an administrative compliance order which required Northeast Ridge to correct the environmental damage and restore impacted wetlands to pre-impact conditions. EPA approved Northeast Ridge’s Restoration and Mitigation Plan in 2007 and the company is currently implementing the plan.


A permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is required before performing any work that results in discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S., which include rivers, lakes, streams, and certain wetlands. The negative impacts of these alleged violations could have been avoided if Northeast Ridge had followed proper permit application procedures and guidance from the Corps and the North Dakota Department of Health.


Lake Elsie and its adjacent wetlands are important as habitat for wildlife, water storage and retention, and flood control. Placing dredged or fill material in creeks, streams, rivers, or wetlands can have adverse impacts on fish and wildlife habitat and can adversely impact the plants and insects they rely on as food sources. Damaging or destroying wetlands can lead to increased flooding and a decline of water quality and habitat.


Property owners, contractors, or developers planning to do work in surface waters and wetlands should contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ North Dakota Regulatory Office (1513 South 12th Street, Bismarck, N.D. 58504; telephone, 701-225-0015) before they begin work to determine if they need a permit.


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