Landowner and Excavator Failed to Contact Corps of Engineers for Dam

A Wayne County, Neb., landowner and a Madison, Neb., excavation contractor will pay a $30,000 civil penalty to the United States to settle allegations that they used earth-moving equipment to construct a dam on a tributary of Spring Branch Creek without first obtaining a necessary permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Bill Willers, of Norfolk, Neb., and Shannon Kurpgeweit, doing business as Custom Excavation, allegedly violated the federal Clean Water Act by discharging dredged or fill material into an unnamed tributary of the creek that runs through Willers’ property, creating the earthen dam. The dam was documented by a Corps of Engineers inspection of the site in October 2009.

Construction of the dam impacted more than a quarter-mile stretch of the creek, and at least 1.13 acres of adjacent wetland, according to an administrative consent agreement and final order filed by EPA Region 7 in Kansas City, Kan.

Under the Clean Water Act, landowners are required to consult with the Corps of Engineers and obtain proper permits before engaging in earth-moving projects that cause damming or adverse impacts to waterbodies.

Unauthorized damming degrades the health of watersheds, resulting in habitat loss, changes to downstream flows that impact stream channel configuration and loss of biological diversity. It also limits the movements of fish, other aquatic organisms and organic material, while depriving other landowners and the public from the use and enjoyment of water downstream.

Willers was officially ordered by EPA in April 2010 to remove the dam and fully restore the impacted stream and wetlands on his property. Since that time, Willers has been working with EPA and the Omaha District Office of the Corps of Engineers on the development of an approved restoration plan.

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