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Release Date: 02/12/2003
Contact Information: Dawn Harris-Young, EPA Press and Media Relations, 404-562-8421
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that a settlement has been reached in an administrative action against the City of Dalton, Georgia for alleged unauthorized impacts to wetlands and streams, a violation of the Clean Water Act. The administrative and penalty orders allege that Dalton discharged fill material into approximately 0.70 acres of wetlands and 2,276 linear feet of tributaries to Mill Creek without U.S. Army Corps of Engineer (Corps) authorization. The wetlands and streams are located northwest of Dalton in Whitfield County, Georgia.

Under the terms of the settlement, the City of Dalton has agreed to purchase mitigation credits involving restoring and preserving wetlands and riparian areas adjacent to the Conasauga River. In a separate action under the penalty agreement, the City will pay a civil penalty of $137,500 for unauthorized activities. As part of that agreement, Dalton will pay a cash penalty of $34,345 and has proposed a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) valued at $103,125. The SEP will enable the Nature Conservancy and the Conasauga River Alliance to purchase and restore a thirty-one acre private outparcel in the Chattahoochee National Forest that will be turned over to the U.S. Forest Service to be managed in perpetuity.

The City of Dalton and the surrounding north Georgia mountains are experiencing rapid growth from development and second home construction. Many nearby streams and rivers, including the Conasagua River, are on Georgia's impaired waters list because of impacts from storm water, unauthorized wetland and stream impacts, and adjacent development. It is critical to the environmental health of the region that impacts to wetlands and streams be regulated. Dalton's proposed SEP will protect adjacent areas along Holly Creek, a water body which harbors a recreational fishery and also supports eleven species of fish and mussels that no longer exist in the remaining Conasauga drainage basin. Five of these species are on the federal list of threatened and endangered species.

EPA and the Corps jointly implement Section 404 of the CWA, which requires that a Corps permit be obtained before placing fill material in waters of the United States. EPA strongly encourages all property owners desiring to impact wetlands or streams to contact the Corps before beginning work. The Corps office which administers the Section 404 permit program in Georgia is located in Savannah, Georgia and can be contacted at (800) 448-2402 or by mail at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ATTN: CESAS-OP-F,Post Office Box 889, 100 West Oglethorpe Ave., Savannah, GA 31402.