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U.S. EPA settles federal water violations with Douglas County developer, landowner

Release Date: 11/8/2004
Contact Information: Laura Gentile ( ) - 415/947-4227 (desk) or 415/760-9161 (cell)

SAN FRANCISCO – Last week a construction company and a local landowner paid the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency a combined total of $6,000 to settle violations of federal stormwater requirements observed during construction of a new housing development in Douglas County, Nev.

E. J. Mahoney Construction and the owner of the Deer Lodge Park residential subdivision agreed to pay penalties for illegally starting construction of a new housing development without first getting a stormwater permit from the agency. The new housing development is located 12 miles south of Gardnerville on tribal allotment lands in Douglas County.

The federal law requires that all construction projects larger than one acre obtain a permit to discharge stormwater.

During an inspection last November, federal officials observed that construction activities had started but that the site did not have a permit. The majority of the site did not have any controls in place to prevent erosion or to stop sediment or other pollutants from entering the storm drains. Once the EPA notified Deer Lodge Park of the violations, the company took steps to prevent erosion at the site.

"Runoff from construction projects can pose a serious threat to water quality," said Alexis Strauss, the director of the EPA's water division for the Pacific Southwest region. "The Clean Water Act requires developers to get a permit and to comply with its requirements, which involve taking basic steps to prevent pollutants from contaminating stormwater."

As stormwater flows over construction sites, it can pick up pollutants like sediment, debris and chemicals. Polluted stormwater runoff can harm or kill fish and wildlife. Uncontrolled sediment can destroy aquatic habitats and high volumes of runoff can cause stream bank erosion.

In Nevada, developers of construction projects must apply to Nevada’s Division of Environmental Protection for coverage under the state’s general construction permit for stormwater, or for an individual permit if site-specific requirements are necessary. On tribal lands in Nevada, the EPA issues the required permits.