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EPA orders Bakersfield to restore Kern River watershed
Release Date: 10/17/2003
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano, (415) 947-4307
SAN FRANCISCO--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently required the city of Bakersfield to restore and preserve habitat within the Kern River that was damaged when the city constructed dams in 2000 and 2001.
This action requires the city to carry out a mitigation plan for ten acres of habitat within the Kern River habitat area to compensate for the five acres of damage done by the unauthorized work. Following restoration efforts, the city is required to conduct five-years of monitoring to ensure restoration was successful.
"The Kern River and its surrounding watershed supply water for important municipal, agricultural and industrial uses, and supports critical habitats," said Alexis Strauss, the EPA's water division director for the Pacific Southwest region. "We will ensure the City of Bakersfield meets all its obligations to undo the damage, and restore and protect the Kern River."
The city of Bakersfield constructed the two dams to prevent erosion around bridge abutments without obtaining required permits from the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps repeatedly warned the city on numerous occasions to stop work and obtain a Clean Water Act permit that would identify the least environmentally damaging project alternative and provide mitigation for those impacts to waters that could not be avoided. The city completed its work without first obtaining a permit, despite these warnings.
The Clean Water Act prohibits the placement of dredged or fill materials into wetlands, rivers, streams and other waters of the United States without a permit to ensure no further damage to these critical areas. Penalties for Clean Water Act violations can be as much as $27,500 per day per violation.
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