The Washington Department of Ecology has fined three companies in Bellingham, Washington, $3,000 each for failing to file their stormwater monitoring reports for the first three quarters of 2010. Under the Clean Water Act, the state requires that companies must monitor and submit reports about stormwater leaving their industrial sites.
A co-owner of one of the companies stated that they had no pollutants and, therefore, had nothing to report.
“We have reported to them late before and we haven’t had problems with them. I’m not sure why they’re questioning us now,” she added.
Stormwater Pond Funds Approved
The Northwest Florida Water Management District is providing $800,000 in grant funding to help build a 10-acre retention pond inside a Cedar Grove, Florida park.
The Division of Resource Management said the stormwater pond will be built along the park’s tributary to treat water quality, enhance wetlands and alleviate flooding in the 200-acre sub-basin area that currently drains into the Watson Bayou.
City Fights Regional Stormwater Plan
The city of Brecksville, Ohio, is taking the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) to court over the district’s proposed new stormwater management plan.
Citing the $6 million to $7 million the city has already spent on various stormwater projects, Brecksville’s law director says the city is able to manage its own stormwater problems and NEORSD doesn’t have the authority to levy additional fees.
Under the regional stormwater plan, the average homeowner would pay $4.75 per month in new stormwater fees. For everyone else, including schools, churches, apartments and businesses, the monthly fee would be $4.75 per month for every 3,000 square feet of impervious surface, which causes run-off. For example, a business with 120,000 square feet of hard surface area would be charged $190 per month.
Brecksville is one of about a dozen cities that are fighting NEORSD in court to prevent it from implementing the regional stormwater program.
The trial is scheduled for July; the rate hike is on hold until a decision is made in court.
Stormwater Equipment Standards
The Stormwater Equipment Manufacturers Association (SWEMA) is drafting new testing protocols for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to evaluate the performance of Manufactured Treatment Devices (MTDs). SWEMA’s goal is to create uniformed evaluation protocols for the effective operation of stormwater management systems in order to help municipalities and manufacturers comply with recent National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II regulations.
SWEMA was formed in 2008 by a group of stormwater equipment manufacturers to support the regulatory and engineering communities, as well as the individual cities and states, with implementation of the Clean Water Act and other stormwater regulations.
For more information about the association, visit www.stormwaterassociation.com.
Federal Government To Pay Stormwater Fees
President Obama signed a new law that will require federal agencies to pay stormwater fees set by local governments. Fifteen states reportedly had been struggling to collect stormwater fees from federal agencies, which totaled amounts from $2,500 to approximately $2.4 million.
A spokesperson from the Department of the Environment said the new law ensures that stormwater management costs will be fairly shared among federal and local government, residents and private enterprise.
Clean Water Jobs Act
Environmentalists in Seattle, Washington, are backing the 2011 Clean Water Jobs Act, a state legislative proposal that would charge a fee on stormwater pollutants.
Supporters say the act would raise $100 million a year by charging a fee equal to 1% of a product’s wholesale value.
Opponents argue that additional fees may hinder employers from creating new jobs and maintaining existing ones. They also worry that the measure would increase costs for businesses, which would be forced to pass the costs on to consumers or absorb those costs, hurting their bottom line.
The act applies to petroleum products, pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.
Quarry Owners Fined
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has entered into a consent agreement with Holcim (US), Inc., an international cement-making company based in Zurich,
Switzerland. The agreement calls for Holcim to pay a $50,000 penalty for discharging polluted stormwater into the Weber River at the company’s Devil’s Slide Quarry in Morgan, Utah.
The agreement resolves an EPA complaint, alleging that runoff from the quarry entered the river without a required Clean Water Act permit from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.
Stormwater Permit Violations
The Environmental Protection Agency has fined the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) and three of its contractors $60,000 for violating the terms of a stormwater permit issued for a highway construction project.
EPA inspectors found several violations on the construction site around the cities of Tama and Toledo, Iowa. The charges against the IDOT and the contractors included failure to properly design, install and maintain best management practices to control construction stormwater runoff, failure to develop an adequate Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan and failure to perform and document site inspections as required by the permit.
According to the EPA, stormwater, snow melt, drainage and runoff carried sediment and contaminants from the highway construction site into a local creek and a tributary, which then flowed into the Iowa River.
Town Faces Daily Fines
The Environmental Protection Agency is threatening to fine the town of Freetown, Massachusetts, $16,000 per day for each day they fail to submit their annual reports concerning pollution discharge.
Under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, the town is required by the General Permit for Stormwater Discharges to submit an annual report regarding the stormwater discharge activities of the previous year. According to the EPA, no report was made in either 2008 or 2009.
The daily fines will be capped at the maximum $177,500 if the town does not comply.
Food Company Pays Fine
Abbyland Foods Inc., a cooked meat and smokehouse sausage production facility in Abbotsford, Wisconsin, will pay $600,000 to settle stormwater management violations that go back nearly a decade.
Among other violations, the Wisconsin assistant attorney general charged Abbyland Foods with failure to implement certain stormwater management practices and failure to perform inspections and evaluations required by its Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan.
Stormwater Lawsuit Requirements Met
The town council of Middleton, Rhode Island, recently approved a $3 million bond initiative to comply with a lawsuit that required them to set in place stormwater design and engineering measures aimed at reducing runoff pollutants.
In 2007, Middletown and the state Department of Environmental Management entered into a consent agreement, in which the town agreed to implement a project to prevent stormwater originating in Middletown from polluting Easton’s Bay.
The focus of the $3 million project will involve diverting the town’s stormwater from entering the City of Newport’s neighboring retaining pond. Engineers also hope to slow down and prevent high-level bacteria runoff from reaching the south shore, while simultaneously diverting other stormwater sources off the coast.
Alaska Coal Mine Fined
The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Usibelli Coal Mine Inc., Wasilla, Alaska, to pay a $60,000 fine for 21 violations of the Clean Water Act at its open-pit mine in Healy, Alaska.
According to the EPA, Usibelli discharged stormwater containing pollutants, including suspended solids and dissolved metals, into surface waters when berms were breached during intense storm events which occurred in the Healy area.
There were also two instances where stormwater was accidentally pumped into ditches that lead to receiving waters, instead of into settling ponds. One of those accidental discharges amounted to 8,400 gallons of water being pumped from the lower yard to a culvert that took it into a local creek.
Ordinance on Hold
The publication of a proposed model stormwater ordinance by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PDEP) has been postponed until December in order to settle disagreements between the PDEP and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the extent of stormwater regulations.
The PDEP had previously issued a nine-month extension last July in order for townships and boroughs to prepare permit applications related to compliance. Debate over discharge standards between the DEP and the EPA pushed the deadline back to the end of the year.
According to a member of the professional team leading the Pennsylvania Stormwater Coalition, stringent requirements favored by the EPA could create a burdensome situation for communities throughout the commonwealth.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued serious citations against Protech Environmental South Inc., doing business as U.S. Erosion Control Products Inc., for 46 alleged safety and health hazards at the company’s site in Willacoochee, Georgia. OSHA issues a serious citation when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
After inspecting the site, OSHA inspections found numerous safety violations, including exposing workers to explosion hazards resulting from inadequate dust control, exposing workers to dust without respiratory protection, failing to clean up thick dust accumulations, using unapproved electrical equipment and forklifts in locations that may include flammable or combustible materials, absence of a fire extinguisher in a straw storage area and fire extinguishers missing from their mounts.
Additional serious citations included exposing workers to fall hazards, electrical hazards, obstructed exit routes, hazards related to the use of liquid propane gas, amputation hazards from a lack of machine guards, hazards from damaged forklifts, and hazards related to lack of eye protection and lack of a hearing conservation program.
The company is facing proposed penalties totaling $55,250.