Excavator Penalized for Damaging Rock Creek

Kenneth L. Schell and Twin Peaks Excavating, Inc. of Erie, Colo., have agreed to pay a civil penalty of $35,000 for alleged unauthorized discharges of excavated material to Rock Creek, according to a Nov. 6 press release.

The alleged violations of the Clean Water Act occurred during the spring of 2007, when Schell and Twin Peaks excavated a new stream channel in Rock Creek and filled adjacent wetlands and approximately 150 feet of the original channel. Schell and Twin Peaks did not obtain a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prior to performing this work. These actions occurred on the city of Lafayette's open space property and were performed without the city's permission or knowledge.

"EPA is taking this action to protect Colorado's water resources and to deter future violations of federal laws," said Mike Gaydosh, EPA's assistant regional administrator for Enforcement in Denver. "Waters such as Rock Creek provide a variety of functions, including flood control, groundwater recharge, pollutant filtering, and habitat for plants, and animals. To maintain those functions, it is imperative that those undertaking activities that alter Colorado's waters and wetlands secure a permit for their actions."

In December of 2007, EPA issued a compliance order that required Schell and Twin Peaks to correct the environmental damage and restore the impacted creek and wetlands. In March of 2008, EPA approved Schell and Twin Peaks' restoration plan, which is being implemented in accordance with an approved schedule.

During fiscal year 2008, the agency concluded enforcement actions requiring polluters to spend an estimated $11 billion on pollution controls, cleanup actions, and environmental projects, an all-time record for EPA. After these activities are completed, EPA expects annual pollution reductions of more than three billion pounds.