Environmental Protection

Smiths Ferry Developers Failed to Get Stormwater Permit

Developers conducting work in Idaho are facing $125,000 in proposed penalties for violating the federal Clean Water Act at a construction site in Smiths Ferry, Idaho, according to a complaint issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Sal Gallucci, JJS Southwest LLC and Whitehawk Land Development Corporation failed to apply for a Construction General Permit prior to building and improving roads at the Whitehawk Subdivision from 2005-2009, according to the complaint. A permit is required by the federal Clean Water Act for construction activities that have the potential to discharge pollutants into waterways. The construction site is located near the North Fork of the Payette River, which is listed as impaired.

“The North Fork of the Payette River is one of Idaho’s gems, and it must be protected,” said Jim Werntz, director of the Idaho Operations Office for EPA. “Developers and contractors need to follow the permit requirements and properly engineer roads within their construction sites so that sediment runoff does not pollute Idaho’s valuable waterways.”

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and EPA conducted several inspections on the 850-acre property in 2008 and 2009. Inspectors from both agencies documented discharges of sediment from the unpermitted construction site into tributaries of the North Fork of the Payette River. The stormwater was contaminated with sediment, sand and dirt, among other things. The operators failed to take proper precautions such as stabilizing slopes to prevent discharges.

Under the Clean Water Act, developers and general contractors at construction sites larger than one acre must apply for and comply with EPA’s nationwide stormwater Construction General Permit. This requires that site operators design, install and maintain storm water controls to prevent water pollution. Without these controls, common construction site pollutants such as sediment, oil and grease, and concrete washout can enter nearby waterways.

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