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EPA orders restoration of damaged Arkansas River

Release Date: 12/17/2007
Contact Information: Diane Sipe, 303-312-6391, sipe.diane@epa.gov Wendy Silver, 303-312-6637, silver.wendy@epa.gov Monica Heimdal, 303-312-6359, heimdal.monica@epa.gov

River illegally rerouted by water and sanitation district

(Denver, Colo., Dec. 17, 2007) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered the Avondale Water and Sanitation District to restore a segment of the Arkansas River it damaged in Pueblo County, Colo.


The Avondale Water and Sanitation District constructed a channel approximately 40 feet wide by 400 feet long through a sandbar in the Arkansas River and illegally discharged the dredged material on both sides of the new channel within the banks of the river. The District also illegally constructed a berm across the existing channel of the river northwest of the Avondale Road bridge.


The District took these actions without a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, despite being informed by the Corps of the need to obtain a permit. The Federal Clean Water Act prohibits discharges of dredged or fill material unless authorized by a Corps permit.


The EPA order requires the Avondale Water and Sanitation District to remove all unauthorized material placed into the river and to restore the river to pre-impact conditions.


Michael Risner, EPA Region 8 Legal Enforcement Director, said, “EPA is taking this action to protect Colorado rivers, wetlands and lakes and to provide deterrence against future violations of federal laws designed to protect valuable water resources.”


Risner noted, “The environmental impacts cited here could have been avoided if the District had followed the Corps’ guidance prior to commencing their activities.”
The Arkansas River provides numerous functions and values, including aquatic and wildlife habitat, flood attenuation, groundwater recharge, recreation and aesthetics. Placing dredged or fill material in creeks, streams, rivers, or wetlands can have adverse impacts on fish and wildlife habitat and their food sources, such as plants or insects.


A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permit is required before performing any work that results in discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, which include lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands.


Any person planning to do work in such waters needs to contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Southern Colorado Regulatory Office, 200 South Santa Fe Avenue, Suite 301, Pueblo, Colo., 81003, telephone number 719-543-9459 before beginning work to determine if a permit is needed.


For more information, go to the EPA web page:
http://www.epa.gov/compliance/civil/cwa/index.html

Help EPA protect our nation's land, air and water by reporting violations:
http://www.epa.gov/tips/