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Two Mass. Developers and Excavating Company Pay Fine for Clean Water Violations

Release Date: 11/20/2008
Contact Information: Paula Ballentine, (617) 918-1027

(Boston, Mass. – November 20, 2008) - Two residential construction companies and an excavating company have agreed to a settlement of $110,000 for violation of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) including a $50,000 cash penalty and a $60,000 supplemental environmental project (SEP). The companies' violations include illegal storm water discharges from a construction site and violation of the federal Construction General Permit for stormwater discharges.

The three companies, Alden Woods, Inc., C.B. Blair Development, and McManus Excavating, are developing a 124-lot subdivision in Holden, Mass. Sediment laden storm water was repeatedly observed discharging from the construction site to nearby Chaffins Brook, which is ranked as a “Class A” waterway by Massachusetts. Class A waters are designated by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection as a source of public water supply. The companies failed to install and maintain controls sufficient to prevent the muddy discharges to the stream.

On top of the cash penalty, the companies will convey a 5.57 acre parcel primarily comprised of wetlands as their SEP, and donate it to a land preservation entity. The wetlands parcel also contains swamp forest and two small upland areas. The area provides habitat for a wide variety of birds, amphibians and mammals. In addition to providing wildlife habitat, the wetlands provide flood flow storage and nutrient removal/retention/transformation, among other functions.

Because they are operators of a site disturbing more than one acre, the companies were required to apply for either an individual permit or a promulgated General Permit for Storm Water Discharges from Construction Activities. The permit requires the use of “best management practices” to prevent erosion and sedimentation of waterways that can result from construction activities. Though construction began in 2002, none of the operators applied for a NPDES permit until Feb. 2006.

Rainwater running off construction sites can carry sediments, oil and other pollutants which contaminate nearby streams, ponds and rivers. Erosion from a one-acre construction site could discharge as much as 20 to 150 tons of sediment in one year if not properly managed. Sediments reduce the storage capacity of drains and waterways, causing flooding and adversely affecting water quality and fish habitat. Sediments and chemicals can also contribute to fish die-offs, toxic algae blooms, contaminated shellfish beds and closed swimming beaches.

EPA is working hard to bring developers and builders into compliance with storm water runoff regulations. The effort includes extensive compliance assistance activities, including workshops and training materials, as well as on-going enforcement including penalty actions and compliance orders. EPA is developing written materials, web sites, workshops, and other products to help those involved in construction projects understand how to comply with storm water laws.

More information:

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EPA Storm Water Permit Program in New England (epa.gov/region1/npdes/stormwater)

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Enforcing Clean Water requirements in New England (epa.gov/region1/enforcement/water)