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US EPA acts against developers for wetlands, waterway destruction

Release Date: 10/5/2004
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      DENVER – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 8 is taking action 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 southwest Sioux Falls, Lincoln County, SD, while building a residential development called Sunset Ridge.

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

Their 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 its associated 3.0 acres of wetlands, which were connected to a surface water drainage system that flows into the Big Sioux River. The Big Sioux River flows into the Missouri River.

Because the developers have already built homes and roads where the wetlands had existed, the EPA’s administrative order does not call for those wetlands to be restored, but instead for a minimum of three acres of other wetlands to be restored for every acre of wetland they impacted. EPA may also consider proposals to create, enhance, or preserve wetlands.

Region 8 Assistant Administrator Carol Rushin said, “EPA took 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.

“The wetlands in this area provide important functions including wildlife habitat, water quality enhancement, water storage and retention, and flood control,” she said.

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 recently settled a case against Candle Development, LLC, which is owned by Daniels Construction, Inc., for violations of the CWA.

The EPA seeks to resolve the CWA violations as quickly as possible, so its administrative order calls for mitigation efforts by the company to occur in a relatively short period of time.