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Idaho Developers Fined over $64,000 for Clean Water Act Violations

Release Date: 03/03/2009
Contact Information: Chris Gebhardt, Compliance & Enforcement (206) 553-0253 / gebhardt.chris@epa.gov; Hanady Kader, Public Affairs (206) 553-0454 / kader.hanady@epa.gov

(Seattle, Washington – March 3, 2009) The 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.

Settlements were reached with the following operators:

Operator(s): J. Foote Excavation, Inc.; Lydig Construction, Inc.; Schweitzer Mountain Real Estate, LLC
Construction Site: Trappers Creek Subdivision
Penalty: J. Foote Excavation, Inc. ($ 6,942); Lydig Construction, Inc.($ 7,317); Schweitzer Mountain Real Estate, LLC ($13,817)

Operator(s): Stone Johnny Development Group, LLC
Construction Site: Hidden River Estates
Penalty: $14,900

Operator(s): The Spires, LLC; Lippert Heavy Equipment, LLC
Construction Site: The Spires
Penalty: $12,500

Operator(s): The Ridge at Schweitzer; Kootenai Excavators
Construction Site: The Ridge at Schweitzer
Penalty: $ 9,000

TOTAL: $64,476

For more about EPA’s storm water Construction General permit, visit:
http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/home.cfm?program_id=6

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