EPA Charges Two Developers with Stormwater Runoff Violations

Boston, MA - As part of a major initiative to improve developer compliance with stormwater runoff rules, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced penalty actions against two residential developers for violations at sites in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

In the first case, EPA has filed a complaint and is seeking a penalty of up to $137,500 against V&G Development Corp. in Dracut for stormwater violations at a 164-acre residential subdivision in Methuen. The second case is a settlement with the Mesiti Development Corp. in North Andover, which has agreed to pay a $75,000 penalty stemming from violations at a 112-acre residential subdivision project in Salem, NH. Both companies failed to obtain federal stormwater permits, prepare federal stormwater pollution prevention plans, and take appropriate actions to control runoff from their construction sites, thereby threatening waterways and wetlands with sediment and other pollutants.

The two cases are part of a multi-faceted effort by EPA to bring developers and builders into compliance with stormwater runoff regulations. The effortincludes extensive compliance assistance activities, including workshops and training materials, as well as an enforcement sweep. Nearly two-dozen inspections have already been done at construction sites across this region in the last year, and more are planned.

Existing federal stormwater rules require all parties conducting public and private construction activity disturbing at least five acres of soil to develop and implement a stormwater pollution prevention plan that meets federal guidelines. As of March 2003, the requirement will be triggered when only one acre is disturbed. Stormwater plans, upon being implemented, will minimize erosion, minimize sediment loss and prevent byproducts of operations and maintenance (oils, gas, grease, chemicals, equipment washout and trash) from polluting stormwater that runs off construction sites.

Neither V&G nor Mesiti had obtained a federal stormwater permit or prepared a plan for reducing stormwater runoff pollution, as required by federal law. EPA inspections at the sites last year showed that the companies had failed to maintain erosion controls leading to siltation deposits in wetlands and, in the case of Mesiti, the potential for oil discharges to storm drains leading to wetlands.

Under the settlement filed this week, Mesiti agreed to pay a $75,000 penalty and certify that its construction sites are in compliance with federal stormwater rules. Company officials at Mesiti acted swiftly to rectify the problems on site and achieved compliance after being notified of the violations.

EPA is developing written materials, websites, workshops, and other products to help those involved in construction projects understand how to comply with stormwater laws. EPA New England's stormwater website contains many of these resources at www.epa.gov/ region01/topics/water/stormwater.html. Developers seeking further assistance can contact Abby Swaine, of EPA NE's Assistance Unit, at 617-918-1841 or swaine.abby@epa.gov.

EPA has also boosted its enforcement presence, completing over 20 inspections of construction sites in New England since July, 2001. These cases are part of a national enforcement initiative regarding federal stormwater construction requirements.