Settlement Reached in Virginia Stream and Stormwater Case
WASHINGTON—Five defendants associated with the construction of the Liberty Village housing development in Lynchburg, Va., will pay a $300,000 penalty and fund more than $1 million in stream and wetlands restoration work for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and permit restrictions during construction, the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced.
The settlement with Savoy Senior Housing Corporation, Savoy Liberty Village LLC, SDB Construction, Inc., Best G.C., Inc., and Acres of Virginia, Inc., was part of a consent decree lodged today in the Western District of Virginia by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the EPA.
The consent decree would resolve allegations that the defendants discharged and/or controlled and directed the discharge of pollutants including dredged and/or fill material, sediment, and other pollutants carried by stormwater into waters of the United States during the construction of a housing development without required permits, and then in violation of the stormwater permit after one was obtained.
Specifically, the defendants allegedly buried existing streams on the site and filled wetlands that formed the headwaters of one of the filled streams. Silt and sediment from the construction activities were also discharged into streams on and off the site and flowed downstream to Pine Lake and beyond.
The current owner of the property, Liberty Ridge, LLC, which is not a defendant, has agreed to implement approximately $250,000 in on-site restoration work, which will be funded by the defendants. The defendants will also pay approximately $825,000 to purchase credits to fund stream and wetland restoration projects in the region.
The alleged Clean Water Act violations at the Liberty Village site, located at 5700 Candlers Mountain Road in Lynchburg, Va., occurred from July 2001 through January 2003 when the defendants cleared and graded the site, installed roads and utilities, and completed or partially built several housing units. In the process, the defendants allegedly destroyed approximately 3,765 feet of stream, and wetlands at the headwaters of tributaries to the Roanoke and James Rivers. Silt and sediment were discharged into streams on and off the site and flowed downstream to Pine Lake and beyond.
These waters are important for flood control, nutrient and sediment retention, filtration, water quality improvement and maintenance of healthy aquatic ecological communities for other water bodies down stream. As the result of defendants’ actions, water now flows downstream faster and at a higher temperature, killing or stressing aquatic animals and plants.
The site restoration plan requires restoration of one stream, restoration and enhancement of four ponds, installation of plantings, and eradication of invasive species in certain areas. The consent decree also prohibits future disturbances of the restoration project area. A copy of the decree will be filed with the Circuit Court in Virginia and each future deed, title, or other conveyance instrument must contain a notice stating that the property is subject to this consent decree.
The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Department of Justice Web site at: http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.
For more information about wetlands and permitting requirements, go to: http://www.epa.gov/owow/ . For more information on stormwater and permitting requirements, go to http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/home.cfm?program_id=6.