Developer hit with $925,000 stormwater penalty

11 Jan 2011

Beazer Homes USA, Inc., a national residential homebuilder, recently agreed to pay a $925,000 civil penalty to resolve alleged Clean Water Act violations at 362 construction sites in 21 states. The Consent Decree requires Beazer to implement a company-wide stormwater program to improve compliance with stormwater runoff requirements at current and future construction sites around the country.

Stormwater runoff from construction activities can significantly impact water quality as it picks up sediment, debris and chemicals and transports them to nearby storm sewers, rivers or lakes. Polluted stormwater runoff can harm or kill fish and other wildlife. Sediments that wash into surface water can destroy aquatic habitat.  The federal NPDES stormwater program requires construction site operators engaged in clearing, grading, and excavating activities that disturb 1 acre or more, including smaller sites in a larger common plan of development or sale, to obtain coverage under an NPDES permit for their stormwater discharges.

Michigan uses a Permit-by-Rule process for storm water discharges.  Construction activities of 5 acres of more, with a point source discharge to surface water are required to submit a Notice of Coverage (NOC).  Before doing this, a developer must either obtain a local Soil Erosion and Sedimentation permit or be designated an Authorized Public Agency (APA) by the DNRE.  Construction activities smaller than 5 acres are automatically covered under Permit-by-Rule upon obtaining coverage under Part 91 (the SESC permit or designation as an APA).

Regardless of size, the permittee must comply with the requirements of the Permit-by-Rule including inspections weekly and within 24 hours of a rain or snowmelt event.  The inspections must be conducted and documented on an inspection report form or log by a certified storm water operator trained and certified by the DNRE.

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