Facilities throughout Southeast ordered to comply with Clean Water Act, pay penalties

June 12, 2009
ATLANTA, GA, June 11, 2009 -- The U.S. EPA issued Consent Agreements and Final Orders against 10 entities throughout the Southeast since the beginning of the fiscal year, Oct. 1, 2008, for violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA)...

ATLANTA, GA, June 11, 2009 -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued Consent Agreements and Final Orders against 10 entities throughout the Southeast since the beginning of the fiscal year, Oct. 1, 2008, for violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA). As part of the settlements, the responsible parties in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina agreed to come into compliance and pay a combined total of $92,249 in civil penalties.

"By taking these enforcement actions, we are sending a strong message about the importance of protecting rivers, lakes and streams across the Southeast," said Stan Meiburg, EPA Region 4 Acting Regional Administrator. "To protect our region's waters, these regulated entities must comply with the Clean Water Act and promptly take the steps needed to resolve the violations noted in our inspections."

Six entities were cited for alleged stormwater-related violations of the CWA. Polluted stormwater runoff is a leading cause of impairment to the nearly 40 percent of surveyed U.S. water bodies which do not meet water quality standards. Over land or via storm sewer systems, polluted runoff is discharged, often untreated, directly into local water bodies. The settlements and associated penalties include:
• Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau, for violations at the Gwinnett Braves Stadium in Lawrenceville, Ga. (civil penalty of $9000)
• Port of Pensacola, Fl., for violations at the port itself (civil penalty of $19,000)
• Boone County Board of Education, for violations at the Longbranch High School in Union, Ky. (civil penalty of $7,000)
• Drees Company Inc., for violations at its Harmony subdivision in Union, Ky. (civil penalty of $15,000)
• Fowler Reese, LLC, for violations at its Hickory Valley subdivision in Independence, Ky. (civil penalty of $3,500)
• Orleans Home Builders, for violations at its Weldon Ridge-Arbor development in Cary, N.C. (civil penalty of $4,000)

Failure to comply with Section 503, Biosolids Requirements for land disposal of sewage sludge:
• Polk County Board of Commissioners, in Bartow, Fl. (civil penalty of $12,150)
• Aqua Utilities Inc., in Fruitville, Fl. (civil penalty of $4,999)

A settlement was also reached with Easley Combined Utilities, which agreed to pay a civil penalty of $12,600, for exceeding the Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET) requirements of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit at the wastewater treatment plant in Easley N.C. WET is the total toxic effect of effluent measured directly with a toxicity test. It is a useful parameter for assessing and protecting against aggregate impacts from the discharge of pollutants.

Another settlement was reached with an individual, Bruno Barreiro, Sr., for discharging dredged and/or fill material into a canal connecting to the Atlantic Ocean behind his Key Largo, Fl., property where he is building a house. Wetlands are important, yet diminishing resources that serve as habitats for critical fish and wildlife and also help control floods, recharge groundwater, capture pollutants and cycle nutrients.

Congress enacted the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1972 to protect the nation's rivers, lakes and stream, as well as some of the more fragile and vital wetland habitats. The entities cited violated the CWA by either failing to meet the requirements of their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, and subsequently causing point source discharges, or by filling or dredging wetlands. Pollutants of concern include nutrients, sediment, oil and grease, chemicals and metals. When left uncontrolled, water pollution can deplete needed oxygen and/or otherwise result in the destruction of aquatic habitats, as well as the fish and wildlife that depend on them. Water pollution can also contaminate food, drinking water supplies and recreational waterways, and thereby pose a threat to public health.