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Lowe's Home Centers Agrees to Pay $137,500 Fine to Settle EPA Complaint in MA; Case is Part of EPA Push to Improve Compliance with Stormwater Regulations

Release Date: 02/13/2003
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

BOSTON - Lowe's Homes Centers, the world's second largest home improvement retailer, has agreed to pay a penalty of $137,500 to settle claims by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that the company failed to obtain necessary permits for stormwater discharges at four construction sites in Massachusetts and failed to adequately control stormwater runoff at its construction site in Woburn, MA.

The claims against the company stem from violations at construction sites in Woburn, Danvers, Brockton and East Springfield. Although Lowe's obtained necessary state and local permits at these locations, the company failed to seek necessary federal discharge permits. Lowe's also failed to prepare required stormwater pollution prevention plans for the four sites.

The Woburn site was inspected in August 2001 and found to lack adequate stormwater controls. EPA inspectors found silt-laden water discharging into a storm drain leading to the Aberjona River. Stormwater runoff from a construction site can present a significant threat to water quality, carrying sediment and other pollutants. Lowe's responded quickly to address its violation by seeking general permit coverage and preparing a stormwater plan within a month of EPA's inspection.

Lowe's Homes Centers, the 14th largest retailer in this country, has more than 800 stores in 43 states and is in the midst of an expansion plan that involves opening a new store on an average of every three days across the country.

Following EPA's initial communications with the company regarding site compliance, Lowe's embarked on a comprehensive nationwide plan to improve its stormwater management program. Lowe's program has been fully revised to address stormwater management during site planning and through all stages of development. The company set up new criteria and staff training to ensure that its sites meet or exceed EPA's criteria.

"Stormwater runoff from a construction site can present a significant threat to water quality," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "We appreciate that Lowe's responded quickly to our concerns and are pleased with the company's commitment to carefully follow environmental laws as they begin construction at new sites across the country."

The Lowe's case is part of a two-pronged effort by EPA to bring developers and builders into compliance with stormwater runoff regulations. The effort combines extensive compliance assistance activities, including technical assistance workshops, with stepped up enforcement, including on-site inspections. EPA has conducted nearly four dozen inspections at construction sites across the region since June 2001 and more are planned.

Existing federal stormwater rules require all parties conducting construction activity disturbing at least five acres of soil to develop and implement a stormwater pollution prevention plan to prevent erosion, control runoff and capture sediment and other pollutants. As of March 10, 2003, the requirement will be triggered when only one acre is disturbed.

For more information on the stormwater requirements, visit EPA New England's web site at, and click on "NPDES Storm Water Permit Program."