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Brownlee Construction to pay $27,500 for damages to Big Sioux River wetlands

Release Date: 09/04/2008
Contact Information: Diane Sipe 303 312-6391; Richard Mylott 303 312-6654

(Denver, Colo. -- September 4, 2008) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached an agreement with Randy L. Brownlee, Rita Brownlee, and Brownlee Construction, Inc., requiring payment of a civil penalty of $27,500 for violations of the Clean Water Act. The penalty is for discharges of dredged and/or fill material to wetlands adjacent to the Big Sioux River in Watertown, Codington County, S.D.

“EPA is taking this action to deter future violations of laws that protect South Dakota's water resources,” Michael Gaydosh, EPA's Assistant Regional Administrator in Denver. "In addition to providing habitat for birds and wildlife, wetlands along the Big Sioux River play important roles in water quality enhancement, water storage and retention, and flood attenuation."

The civil penalty resolves violations of the Clean Water Act that occurred in 2005 when the Brownlees illegally discharged material into 0.30 acres of wetlands to prepare the site for commercial use. This activity was completed without a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). The Clean Water Act prohibits discharges to wetlands and other waters of the United States unless authorized by a permit. During their investigation, the Corps found that a total of 0.65 acres of wetlands had been filled with dredged and/or fill material without authorization, including approximately 0.35 acres of wetlands in 1991. The Corps subsequently referred the case to EPA for enforcement. In March 2008, EPA approved Brownlee Construction's wetland restoration and mitigation plan, which is currently being implemented in accordance with an approved schedule.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit is required before performing any work that results in discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, which includes lakes, rivers, streams and certain wetlands. Property owners, contractors, or developers planning to do any work in such waters should always contact the Corps in Pierre, South Dakota, at (605) 224-8531 to determine if they need a permit before they begin work.