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Southern Missouri Governments to Help Streams After Illegal Activities
Release Date: 10/05/2006
Contact Information: Martin Kessler, (913) 551-7236, firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Kansas City, Kan., October 5, 2006) – Two local governments in south-central Missouri that illegally bulldozed streambeds are required by EPA to perform nearly $30,000 in mitigation for the significant environmental harm they caused, and adopt safeguards to prevent such damage in the future.
EPA settlement agreements with the Reynolds County Road Commission, dated September 20, 2006, and Pierce Township in Texas County, dated July 16, 2006, both addressed activities that damaged streams between 2004 and 2006 in violation of the Clean Water Act. The two governments failed to obtain the necessary permits required by the Act.
These illegal activities damaged the streams’ ecosystems by altering established stream bottoms where fish and other animals normally breed and thrive, destroying habitats for aquatic life.
Reynolds County and Pierce Township used bulldozers extensively in an attempt to clear stream gravel upstream of low-water crossings, resulting in discharges of fill and dredged material within waters of the U.S.
Altering natural streams or placing fill material into streams is allowed by the Clean Water Act only when other alternatives are evaluated and found to be unfeasible, and a mitigation plan is carried out to restore the lost resources. In these two cases, other alternatives were not evaluated and no mitigation projects had been performed.
The Reynolds County violations occurred from 2004 to 2006 when the county repeatedly damaged several hundred feet of Bill’s Creek and Sinking Creek, both tributaries of the Black River. The Pierce Township violations occurred during at least three occasions in 2004 along a total of nearly 1,900 feet of tributaries of the Jacks Fork River.
As part of the settlement with Reynolds County, the county agreed to perform $15,275 in mitigation projects to compensate for the environmental damage they caused. Similarly, Pierce Township agreed to perform $14,500 in mitigation. The cost of the required mitigation is based on the number of linear feet of stream damaged by each party.
Both agreements provide a framework for preventing such Clean Water Act violations from occurring again by requiring annual meetings with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. To further discourage similar violations, EPA Region 7 also intends to conduct outreach efforts for other local governments and take additional enforcement actions, if appropriate.
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