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Great Feeder Canal Company Agrees to Penalty for Unauthorized Discharges to the Snake River

Release Date: 4/21/2004
Contact Information: Carla Fromm
(208) 378-5755

April 21, 2004

The Great Feeder Canal Company (GFCC), a Southeast Idaho water provider to agriculture, has signed an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to settle violations of the federal Clean Water Act. As part of the settlement, GFCC agreed to repair the environmental damage and pay a $15,000 penalty.

The settlement – known in legal parlance as a Consent Agreement and Final Order (CAFO) – concludes an enforcement action against GFCC for unauthorized discharges of dredged spoils into a side channel of the Snake River and adjacent wetlands near Heise, Idaho.

In November, 2002 GFCC dredged wetlands while removing a gravel bar in a side channel of the Snake River, also called the South Fork. GFCC was attempting to deepen and widen a side channel of the river to protect an irrigation head gate downstream of the site. The dredging removed a large amount of woody vegetation and largely destroyed the riparian habitat for a stretch of about two-tenths mile. This unauthorized activity occurred on public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). In addition to violating the Clean Water Act, GFCC trespassed on BLM land while conducting this work.

According to Jim Werntz, EPA’s Idaho Operations Director, it’s unfortunate that the Snake River, one of our state’s most valued resources has been needlessly damaged.

“It’s important that everyone – especially canal companies and irrigation districts – obtain the proper permits and comply with applicable environmental protections before beginning work in wetlands or stream channels.” said EPA’s Werntz. “I’m glad that the Great Feeder Canal Company is accepting responsibility for the damage they caused, and are performing the necessary repair work.”

GFCC has largely completed the restoration work at the site, after receiving a Notice of Violation and Order from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in November, 2002. GFCC has removed the dredged spoils from the riparian area along the shore and it is monitoring the revegetation of that area.

The CAFO was filed on April 15, 2004, with the Regional Hearing Clerk in Seattle.

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Carla Fromm Mark MacIntyre