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EPA Orders Drainage Work at Airston Housing Site

Release Date: 4/24/2001
Contact Information: Roy Seneca, (215) 814-5567

Roy Seneca, (215) 814-5567

PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Airston Group developers of Centerville, Va. to draft a dredging plan and correct severe erosion and storm water pollution problems at a Fairfax County, Va. housing construction site known as “Governors Run.”

“With development on the rise, it’s imperative that we protect our waterways from unnecessary runoff from construction sites, so that our streams and lakes can continue to support aquatic life and be available for recreation,” said Thomas Voltaggio, acting administrator of EPA’s mid-Atlantic region.

The administrative order addresses alleged violations of the Clean Water Act by Airston Group at the 28-acre site at the intersection of Fox Mill Road and Fox Vale Drive in Oakton, Va. According to the order, construction activity at the site caused periodic discharges of pollutants and severe erosion between April 25, 1997 and the Fall of 2000.

The order alleges that the developers never applied for the proper permits to control drainage while they dug up and reconstructed a farm pond on the site. Uncontrolled runoff from construction and work on the pond increased the amount of water and velocity of water flowing through a tributary on the site. This resulted in the discharge of pollutants and severe bank erosion, allowing mud and silt to flow downstream into Lake Martin, where it accumulated as a small island.

Under the Clean Water Act, owners of construction sites of five acres or more must obtain a permit before discharging storm water runoff into surface waters. The permit requires implementing a storm water pollution prevention plan and may contain discharge limits and monitoring requirements.

The administrative order requires Airston to correct the drainage problems at the site and to dredge and properly dispose of sediment that was deposited in Lake Martin. The order to correct damage and relieve current runoff problems does not preclude EPA from taking future penalty action against Airston.

Fairfax County filed a $1.4 million lawsuit in September against Airston Group for construction and drainage related violations of local requirements at the Governors Run site.