North Idaho Developers Fined Nearly $45K for Storm Water Violations

The Environmental Protection Agency has settled with seven firms and individuals accused of violating the Clean Water Act at construction sites in northern Idaho. EPA found the violations during routine inspections last fall in the Sandpoint area. The violations resulted in fines ranging from $8,200 to $14,750.

Inspectors observed violations at all of the sites, including failure to apply for coverage under the nationwide storm water construction general permit and failure to use erosion and sediment controls necessary to prevent polluted run off and protect water quality.

"We were surprised by the number of un-permitted operators and by the poor storm water management practices at these sites," said Kim Ogle, Manager of EPA's Permit Compliance Unit in Seattle. "Especially given the number of years we have been doing both outreach and enforcement in Idaho. The permit requirements and their importance to water quality are generally well-known."

EPA noted this is the seventh year in a multi-year initiative to improve compliance with the construction general permit. The permit authorizes storm water discharges from construction sites, and it requires operators of those sites to design, install, and maintain storm water controls to protect surface waters from common construction site pollutants like sediment, oil and grease, and concrete washout. The agency added that developers should note that the general permit requirements apply to homebuilders working on small lots that are part of a larger development where more than one acre of land will be disturbed.

The violations were settled using EPA's Construction Storm Water expedited settlement offer policy, a streamlined enforcement process with lower fines for operators who are first-time violators and where no environmental harm was yet observed. The inspections resulted in the following expedited settlement offers: a penalty of $14,750 to Cedars at Sandcreek and Earthworks Northwest for their construction at Cedars at Sand Creek; a penalty of $13,000 to Floyd McGhee and Normco for their construction at the First Addition to Kootenai Heights; a penalty of $9,000 to Sandpoint Construction Co. for its work at Maddy Lane Lots; and a penalty of $8,200 to Timber Ridge Investments and Idaho Granite Works for their construction at The Falls at Hayden Lake.

For more information about EPA's storm water Construction General permit, visit http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/home.cfm?program_id=6.

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