Company To Pay $600,000 Penalty, Spend $3 Million On Environmental Projects

Under the terms of a Clean Water Act settlement announced on Aug. 4, Currahee Club, LLC, is required to pay a penalty of $600,000, and to restore off-site stream and wetlands properties in the upper Savannah River watershed to repair damage caused to the environment, at an estimated cost in excess of $3 million.

The federal government alleged that the company violated Section 404 of the Clean Water Act during the construction of a golf course and related facilities without a permit or authorization at the Currahee Club subdivision. The Currahee project is located in northeastern Georgia on the shores of Lake Hartwell, seven miles east of Toccoa. Construction and fill activities began Sept. 7, 2000, prior to the current management of the project.

"(This) action emphasizes using the best available science, promoting innovation, and focusing on results which will help our nation meet EPA's ambitious wetlands goals under the Clean Water Act," said Granta Y. Nakayama, EPA's assistant administrator of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "We will partner with federal, state, local, and private entities to meet our goals of increasing the quantity and quality of wetlands nationwide."

"This enforcement action reflects the agency's commitment to ensuring compliance with the requirements of the Clean Water Act, thereby protecting human health and the environment," said Jimmy Palmer, EPA Region 4 administrator. "It also demonstrates our steadfast commitment to preserve and protect the delicate balance of our ecosystems."

The alleged violations are of major environmental significance, due to the quality and magnitude of streams impacted and the projects location adjacent to Lake Hartwell, officials said. Prior to the initiation of construction, the Currahee site performed important stream and wetland functions, before flowing into Lake Hartwell, a nationally significant intrastate water. Lake Hartwell is used for fishing, boating, navigation and recreation, and is a source of drinking water. The impacted streams were valuable spawning habitat and nursery areas; however, the proposed mitigation will take place in the same watershed and will offset impacts to the aquatic ecosystem.

For additional information, contact EPA Region 4 at http://www.epa.gov/region4.

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