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EPA's Clean Water Act Enforcement in High Gear

Release Date: 11/16/2006
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez, (212) 637-3664 or rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

(New York, NY) Continuing to uphold the water quality requirements of the Clean Water Act, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced settlements with Cue and Lopez Contractors/Vistas de Gurabo, Inc., Wildco., Inc., Rullan Ruiz Group, Inc., and Top Construction Corp. for failing to obtain storm water discharge permits and develop required storm water pollution prevention plans to protect water quality. EPA and the parties have reached agreement on penalties and supplemental environmental projects with a combined value in excess of $125,000 for failing to take the necessary steps at their construction sites to minimize construction related runoff from polluting the waters of Puerto Rico.

“Sustainable development and responsible construction activities must go hand-in-hand if we are to protect the environment and protect public health,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. “We will continue to vigorously enforce the provisions of the Clean Water Act to protect our watersheds and control runoff from construction sites, which could have negative impacts on the environment. These actions are part of an ongoing and concerted national effort by EPA to reduce storm water pollution and improve water quality.”

In addition to the penalties, the developers will each take on a supplemental environmental project (SEP), which is an environmentally beneficial project that a violator agrees to undertake in exchange for a reduction in the penalty.

Cue and Lopez Contractors/Vistas de Gurabo, Inc. have agreed to pay a penalty of $15,000 for failing to obtain the required permit for construction activities related to a residential construction project in El Barrio Navarro in Gurabo that encompassed approximately five acres. If the companies had developed and carried out the required storm water pollution prevention plan, they would have reduced the amount of sediment polluting local waterways. The developer will also pay at least $45,000 to undertake important data collection in Catano in preparation for engineering studies to help protect Las Cucharillas Marsh and the San Juan Bay Estuary.

Wildco, Inc. failed to carry out best management practices to control storm water runoff at a site associated with its construction activities at the Adjuntas Plaza site. The developer will pay a penalty of $3,450 and conduct a supplemental environmental project that will include over 200 native trees to help reduce soil erosion and enhance wildlife in Adjuntas at a cost of at least $30,000.

Rullan Ruiz Group, Inc. failed to obtain the appropriate storm water construction permit and failed to carry out best management practices during construction of a sewer project. As a result, it failed to carry out storm water controls at its construction area around the Coto Laurel Creek in Ponce. The developer will pay a penalty of $3,500 and supply at least $12,500 for the preservation of more than two acres of open space.

Top Construction Corp. did not obtain a storm water permit during construction of its 50 acre Brighton Country Club project and failed to carry out erosion controls at its site located in the Higuillar Ward of Dorado. The developer will pay a penalty of $9,000 and take part in an environmental project valued at $7,000 to conserve and help manage Las Cucharillas Marsh.

Construction projects are a potentially significant source of storm water related sediment runoff when soil at these sites is disturbed or left in loose piles. When rain washes through the soil, large amounts of sediment may wash into local water bodies, clogging rivers, shore lines and wetlands, and may impact aquatic habitat and reduce the capacity of Puerto Rico’s reservoirs.

The Clean Water Act requires operators of construction sites of one acre or larger (including smaller sites that are part of a larger common plan of development) to obtain a permit to discharge storm water and to develop and carry out a storm water pollution prevention plan. Pollutants, sediments, oil and grease can accumulate in storm water as it travels across land and ultimately flow into the watershed. EPA will continue to pursue those who do not comply with the Clean Water Act and the permitting requirements of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System as part of the national wet weather enforcement priority.

Information on storm water permits and how to obtain one, visit: http://www.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater

En Espanol

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