EPA Files Enforcement Action Against Three Massachusetts Developers

Discharges of muddy stormwater from a construction site, in violation of the federal Clean Water Act, has prompted EPA to file an enforcement action seeking penalties against two residential construction companies and an excavating company.

The three companies, Alden Woods, Inc., C.B. Blair Development, and McManus Excavating, are developing a 124-lot subdivision in Holden, Mass. Sediment laden stormwater was repeatedly observed discharging from the construction site to nearby Chaffins Brook, which is ranked as a "Class A" waterway by Massachusetts.

The companies failed to install and maintain controls sufficient to prevent the muddy discharges to the stream. EPA officials stated on Oct. 4 they are seeking a proposed penalty of $157,500 from each operator of the Holden subdivision.

"Construction companies play a critical role in protecting our waterways. It is imperative that companies apply for coverage under EPA's construction stormwater permit, and fully comply with the permit requirements," said Robert W. Varney, EPA Region 1 administrator.

Because they are operators of a site disturbing more than one acre, the companies were required to apply for either an individual permit or a promulgated General Permit for Storm Water Discharges from Construction Activities. The permit requires the use of "best management practices" to prevent erosion and sedimentation of waterways that can result from construction activities. Though construction began in 2002, none of the operators applied for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit until Feb. 28, 2006.

Rainwater running off construction sites can carry sediments, oil and other pollutants which contaminate nearby streams, ponds and rivers. Erosion from a one-acre construction site could discharge as much as 20 tons to 150 tons of sediment in one year if not properly managed. Sediments reduce the storage capacity of drains and waterways, causing flooding and adversely affecting water quality and fish habitat. Sediments and chemicals can also contribute to fish die-offs, toxic algae blooms, contaminated shellfish beds and closed swimming beaches.

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