Washington State Fines County DOT, Contractor for Stormwater Violations
The Washington stated Department of Ecology (Ecology) announced on
Oct. 10 that the King County Department of Transportation (KCDOT) and
its contractor, Wilder Construction Co., have been fined $12,000 for
violating a construction stormwater permit by allowing water, which had
come into contact with freshly placed concrete for the new Tolt Bridge,
to reach the Snoqualmie River.
The permit violations occurred last February during construction of
the bridge across the Snoqualmie River, south of Carnation. The
concrete placement for a bridge support occurred, as designed, in a
wetland area commonly used by juvenile coho and other salmon and trout
species. Until it has cured properly, freshly-placed ready-mix concrete
can make surface water caustic and harmful to fish and other aquatic
Recent flooding had created standing water within the wooden
concrete form. Workers placed concrete directly into the formwork,
which displaced the standing water. While some erosion control measures
had been installed, they were insufficient to contain the flow of water
to the immediate work area. Highly alkaline water entered into the
surrounding wetland area and reached the river's open water.
"We recognize the high, flowing water made conditions difficult that
day," said Kevin Fitzpatrick, Ecology's regional water quality
supervisor, "but there are methods to contain contaminated water in
such situations. When the need arises, those pollution control methods
around the work area need to be in place."
Fitzpatrick added that the county and its contractor have improved
environmental practices on the project since last winter's incident.
In response to Ecology's action, KCDOT expressed regret over the
incident and emphasized the importance environmental regulations play
in protecting the environment.
"Our field inspector discovered the discharge, immediately reported
it to Ecology, and quickly began efforts to contain it," said Rick
Brater, KCDOT engineering services section manager. "Ecology staff
arrived at the project site after the concrete pour was completed and
suggested additional methods to contain the discharge. The contractor's
personnel immediately implemented Ecology's recommendations."
Brater added KCDOT staff also provided monitoring data and other documentation to assist Ecology's investigation.
"Wilder Construction shares the concerns of Ecology and KCDOT for
the preservation of critical habitats and environmental compliance,"
said Wilder's Everett Branch Manager Joe Spink. "Incidents such as this
will serve to focus our attention on improving our performance and