Tricounty News

Housing development violations cost $52,500

Rolling Green Inc., LaTour Construction Inc., R.L. Larson Excavating Inc., and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency have reached an agreement that requires the three parties to pay the MPCA $52,500 for alleged stormwater violations. The violations occurred at Emerald Ponds, a 145-acre housing development construction site near St. Augusta, Minn. MPCA and Stearns County staff inspections performed in 2005 confirmed that during construction, the companies failed to install appropriate silt fencing, bank stabilization, and sediment and erosion control structures throughout the site. These kinds of violations often have significant environmental impacts, mostly because of sediment-laden stormwater running into area surface waters. In this case, significant amounts of sediment had entered curb and gutter systems, ditches, ponds and wetlands on and off the construction site. The companies also failed to remove the sediment once it had entered these areas. In addition to paying the $52,500 civil penalty, the companies were required to correct all violations. These corrections have been made and the penalty has been paid. Minnesota law requires businesses and contractors to apply for a stormwater permit when construction projects disturb more than one acre of soil. The MPCA offers outreach and training to help contractors meet their permit requirements. For more information on stormwater permits, call Lisa Woog, MPCA compliance coordinator, at (218) 855-5017 or toll-free at (800) 657-3864. When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it is a first time or repeat violation, and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. It also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner. For a comprehensive list of enforcement actions by the MPCA, refer to the agency Web site at www.pca.state.mn.us/newscenter/enforcement.html. A complete list of penalties issued by the MPCA is available on its Web site at www.pca.state.mn.us.