Homebuilder Settles Clean Water Act Violations in 21 States
Site inspections and company documentation revealed that Beazer Homes allegedly failed to obtain stormwater permits or, if the company did get them, it did so after construction began.
Beazer Homes USA, Inc., a national residential homebuilder, has agreed to pay a $925,000 civil penalty to resolve alleged Clean Water Act violations at its construction sites in 21 states, the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced. As part of the settlement, Beazer will also implement a companywide stormwater program to improve compliance with requirements at current and future construction sites around the country.
“Contaminated stormwater puts children and families at risk as it may carry pollutants, including sediment, debris, and pesticides that contribute to water quality problems. These pollutants affect our nation’s rivers, lakes, and sources of drinking water,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance and Assurance. “
A portion of the settlement helps EPA efforts to protect the Chesapeake Bay, which is threatened by pollution from various sources, and overburdened with nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment that can be carried by stormwater. The settlement will result in a reduction of approximately 10.4 million pounds of pollutants to the bay watershed.
The government complaint, filed simultaneously with the settlement agreement in federal court in Nashville, alleges a pattern of violations that was discovered through site inspections and by reviewing documentation submitted by the company. The alleged violations include failure to obtain permits until after construction began, or failing to obtain them at all. At sites with permits, violations included failure to prevent or minimize the discharge of pollutants such as silt and debris in stormwater runoff.
The settlement requires Beazer to:
- develop improved pollution prevention plans for each construction site,
- conduct additional site inspections, and
- promptly correct any problems detected.
The company must properly train construction managers and contractors and designate trained staff for each site. Beazer also must implement a management and internal reporting system to improve oversight of on-the-ground operations and submit annual reports to EPA.
The Clean Water Act requires that construction sites have controls in place to prevent pollution from being discharged with stormwater into nearby waterways. These controls include simple pollution prevention techniques such as silt fences, phased site grading, and sediment basins to prevent common construction contaminants from entering the nation’s waterways.
Seven states have joined the settlement. The states of Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, and Tennessee, and the Commonwealth of Virginia will receive a portion of the $925,000 penalty.
The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. For more information, visit www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/cwa/beazer.html.