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Penalty sought from South Dakota developers for wetlands, waterway destruction

Release Date: 9/21/2005
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      DENVER -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued an administrative complaint against Sunset Development, LLC, Daniels Construction, Inc., and James P. Daniels, all of Tea, SD, for their destruction of wetlands and portions of a waterway in Sioux Falls, Lincoln County, SD, while building a residential development called Sunset Ridge. The agency proposes a civil penalty of up to $157,500.

The developers violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) by discharging dredged and fill material into wetlands and other waters, impacting an area of up to four acres in southwest Sioux Falls, without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Such materials are considered pollutants under the CWA.

These illegal actions have resulted in the elimination of a 0.4-acre and a 0.6-acre wetland and in adverse impacts to portions of a waterway and 3.0 acres of associated wetlands, which are connected to a surface water drainage system that flows into the Big Sioux River. The Big Sioux River flows into the Missouri River.

“EPA takes this action to prevent the pollution of the wetlands, lakes, and streams of South Dakota and to provide deterrence against future violations of federal laws designed to protect valuable water resources," said EPA's Assistant Regional Administrator, Carol Rushin. “The wetlands in this area provide important functions including wildlife habitat, water quality enhancement, water storage and retention, and flood control.”

Daniels is the manager and registered agent for Sunset Development, LLC. He also is the president, a director, and the registered agent of Daniels Construction, Inc., which has developed the Sunset Ridge, Candlelight Acres, and Sterling Estates subdivisions in the Sioux Falls area. EPA settled a case in 2004 against Candle Development, LLC, which is owned by Daniels Construction, Inc., also for violations of the CWA.

A Corps permit is required before performing any work that results in discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S., 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 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ regulatory office in Pierre, South Dakota, at 605-224-8531 before they begin work to determine if they need a permit.