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Home Builder’s Stormwater Violations at Construction Sites Result in $1 Million Enforcement Settlement

A residential home builder, Garden Homes, has agreed to resolve alleged stormwater violations with the EPA and U.S. Department of Justice, according to a June 8, 2015, Federal Register Notice. The settlement involves a civil penalty of $225,000 and a Supplemental Environmental Project valued at $780,000 involving the acquisition of 108 acres of land for preservation.

Under the Clean Water Act, developers or contractors are required to seek stormwater permit coverage and implement Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP) at construction sites that disturb one or more acres of land.

According to the DOJ’s Press Release “Garden Homes violated numerous stormwater requirements at ten of the company’s sites in New Jersey by failing to conduct and document weekly inspections; failing to install perimeter silt fencing along the perimeter of construction sites; failing to maintain a spill kit on-site; and allowing fuel to spill on the ground uphill from an unprotected catch basin, among other allegations. The violations at issue in this case were found at multiple construction sites owned and/or operated by Garden Homes through their affiliates. These repetitive violations continued to persist despite two administrative penalty actions taken by Region 2 against affiliates of Garden Homes.”

In addition to the civil penalty and the SEP, the company has agreed to designate an employee as a corporate-wide Stormwater Manager to oversee development of SWPPP, employee training, and conduct routine unannounced compliance inspections. In addition, each construction site will also be required to have a Site Stormwater Manager.

This stormwater enforcement case by EPA and DOJ is just one of the many recent cases underscoring the increased focus by EPA on construction site stormwater compliance for both road construction and home/building construction, with other notable enforcement cases identified in the Environmental Law Solutions Related Publications link to this article.