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EPA Slams Developer for Flouting Clean Water Act

Release Date: 08/30/2006
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez, (212) 637-3664 or rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

(New York, NY ) In a further demonstration of its commitment to pursue those who threaten water quality and run afoul of the Clean Water Act, the United States Environmental Protection Agency is taking action against a Gurabo developer for improper construction activities affecting El Rio Grande de Loiza. The Agency today announced a proposed penalty of $97,000 against Jose Lopez Roig, President, Estancias de Siervas de Maria, Inc. for failing to obtain the required permit for construction activities that would have avoided runoff from polluting the area surrounding its 19-acre construction site in Gurabo, Puerto Rico.

“This is a wake-up call to bad managers whose construction activities adversely impact a watershed,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. “Developers must be aware that sustainable development is now a business necessity. The required permit is designed to control the rainwater runoff from their construction sites, which can have extremely negative impacts.”

The negative impacts of runoff are notable. Sediment may clog rivers, shore lines and wetlands, and has the potential to impact aquatic habitat and diminish the ability of Puerto Rico’s reservoirs to function properly.

The administrative penalty is being levied against Estancias de Siervas de Maria, Inc. for its failure to obtain a discharge permit or implement the required stormwater erosion controls, for ignoring stormwater rules when constructing, and for ignoring a previous order from EPA to comply. Today’s actions are part of a broad effort by the EPA to get construction companies to adhere to environmental law.

Construction projects are a significant source of sediment runoff because the soil at these sites is often disturbed and left in loose piles. When rain washes through them, it can carry large amounts of sediment into local water bodies. Stormwater runoff from construction activities can have a significant impact on water quality.

The Clean Water Act requires operators of construction sites of one acre of larger (including smaller sites that a part of a larger common plan of development) to obtain a permit to discharge stormwater. Pollutants, sediments, oil and grease can accumulate in stormwater 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.

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

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