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CALTRANS AGREES TO PAY $137,500 FOR WATER POLLUTION VIOLATIONS

Release Date: 11/20/2001
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, Press Office, 415/947-4248, chavez.wendy@epa.gov

     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a $137,500 settlement with Caltrans for stormwater pollution violations at its State Route 56 construction project in San Diego, Calif., resulting in large amounts of sediment and silt runoff into two tributaries of the Los Penasquitos Lagoon.

     "Stormwater runoff is one of the biggest sources of pollution contaminating the nation's rivers, beaches, and other waterways," said Alexis Strauss, the EPA's water division director for the Pacific Southwest office.  "Developers and their contractors have a longstanding legal obligation to maintain management practices that ensure sediment in stormwater does not pollute waterways."
     
     The State Route 56 project includes constructing a bridge crossing Los Penasquitos Creek and a temporary crossing of Deer Creek.  These creeks are tributary to the Los Penasquitos Lagoon, a coastal water body that has been identified by the State of California as impaired due to excessive sediment and turbidity.

     For sites five acres or larger, the Clean Water Act requires that developers and contractors use temporary erosion control products such as seeding, mulch, and rolled blankets or other suitable ground cover over inactive rough or final graded areas.   Silt fences and detention basins must also be installed to control sediment during rains.

     The EPA cited Caltrans for not properly installing silt fences, fiber rolls were not trenched, straw bales were not staked into place and certain areas of disturbed soil were not stabilized to prevent erosion.

     The EPA inspected the project in October 2000 and notified Caltrans staff of missing and deficient management practices to control stormwater discharges at the site.  Caltrans corrected certain violations, but failed to make comprehensive improvements.  

     The project was again inspected during a January 2001 rainstorm and control measures were still absent, improperly installed and failing. These deficiencies led to  significant discharges of sediment to both Los Penasquitos Creek and Deer Creek.  
                               

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