$12,000 Fine Flows From Muddy Runoff to Puget Sound
BELLEVUE, Washington, March 31, 2008 (ENS) - The Washington state Department of Ecology has fined developers of a Lynnwood residential construction site $12,000 for failing to prevent polluted runoff into Swamp Creek.

Pacific Ridge Homes LLC of Bothell, Washington are the developers of the eight-acre project, Blackstone Residential Community at 15730 Manor Way.

In announcing the fine on Thursday, the state agency said the developers failed to cover bare soils and protect cleared slopes, even though inspectors from the Department of Ecology pointed out the need for these protections at repeated visits to the site.

These measures are designed to protect exposed earth from washing away in rainy weather. They are required under the Department of Ecology's construction stormwater permit, which applies to construction sites larger than one acre in size.

"The permit requires contractors and developers to take necessary measures in preventing water pollution in the first place," said Kevin Fitzpatrick, a regional supervisor for the state agency's water quality program.

"Hundreds of construction sites follow these requirements every day around the state. At Blackstone, we saw what happens when prevention falls short," he said.

Inspectors informed the site's managers of several problems after site visits on November 7 and December 20-21, 2007.

They found that exposed soil was not or inadequately covered, thus being exposed to rain erosion. Slopes needed erosion protection. Inspectors could see slope sediments and debris on Manor Way.

The inspectors found that channels leading to a stormwater treatment vault had no lining, so water flowing into the vault contained unnecessarily higher amounts of silt.

The violations contributed to releases of muddy water from the construction site. The site's stormwater discharges drain to Swamp Creek, which already does not meet state standards for dissolved oxygen, temperature, and fecal coliform bacteria.

High levels of silt in stream water can harm the breathing gills of fish.

Swamp Creek is the subject of a water improvement plan, in cooperation with local governments and organizations.

Swamp Creek flows to Lake Washington, which drains to Puget Sound.

The Department of Ecology's construction stormwater efforts are part of the department's support of the Puget Sound Partnership's efforts to protect and restore the Sound by 2020.

Pacific Ridge Homes may appeal the penalty to the Department of Ecology or to the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board within 30 days.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.