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Agreement Reached on Kachemak Bay Discharges

Release Date: 2/23/1998
Contact Information: David Allnutt
(206) 553-2581 or 1-800-424-4372

February 23, 1998 - - - - - - - - - 98-6

The state of Alaska and an Anchorage road building contractor have settled a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency complaint alleging they violated water quality standards by discharging polluted storm water into local streams and into Kachemak Bay during a road-widening project on the Sterling Highway near Homer in 1996.

Reaching the settlement with EPA were the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOTPF) and Quality Asphalt Paving of Anchorage. The two parties, without either admitting or denying the allegations in the EPA complaint, agreed to pay a combined $15,000 in penalties to settle the case.

EPA issued its complaint last March under the authority of the federal Clean Water Act, a statute that regulates the discharges of storm water from construction activities. EPA alleged ADOTPF and Quality Asphalt Paving violated state water quality standards by having sent highly turbid storm water into a number of streams in the construction area on four occasions during October and November 1996, and caused a large plume of discolored turbid water to form in Kachemak Bay.

ADOTPF and Quality Asphalt Paving were engaged in widening a stretch of the Sterling Highway beginning at a point atop a bluff about a half mile west of Homer and extending to the bottom of the bluff about 3.8 miles east.

EPA's storm water regulations apply to any construction project involving five or more acres. Discharges are allowed into lakes, streams, rivers and other bodies of fresh and salt water only if they are authorized by a Clean Water Act permit and do not cause violations of water quality standards. In the settlement with EPA, ADOTPF acknowledged its obligation to obtain storm water permit coverage for future state-funded highway projects.