North Idaho developers fined nearly $45,000 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 $8,000 - $14,000.
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 unpermitted 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.”
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.
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.