Regulatory Violations

It's the Law

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and numerous other states including California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) have stepped up their efforts to keep SWPPP’s compliant to the NPDES. All of these criteria mandate the utilization of Best Management Practices (BMP’s) on construction sites. Potential discharges into the storm drain systems from concrete work has become a priority of the federal and state EPA, water quality control officials, regional and local inspectors as well as a strategic target of the advocacy and environmental groups.  Illegal discharges into our waterways can bring fines of $10,000 per day plus $10 per gallon; however, in addition, they can reach $27,500 per day if the US EPA becomes involved.

In 2004, the US EPA conducted approximately 21,000 inspections, 425 criminal investigations and 455 civil investigations relating to pollution activities.  The investigatory activities, both civil and criminal, help ensure a level playing field, removing any economic or competitive advantage which may be gained through noncompliance. The EPA identifies, apprehends, and assists prosecutors in successfully convicting those responsible for the most significant and egregious criminal violations of environmental law.

During the course of 2004, the EPA’s efforts helped reduce, properly treat or eliminate an estimated 1 billion pounds of pollutants from civil enforcement in addition 25.3 million pounds of pollutants will be reduced due to criminal enforcement.  These enforcement actions will also require companies to invest $4.8 billion in pollution control measures.  Please review the US EPA’s 2004 report:

California Regional Water Quality Board

Homebuilder in Santa Ana Region
Complaint No. R8-2003-0037 for Administrative Civil Liability
Imposed Fine - $15,000
BMP’s were inadequate, not properly maintained and had significantly deteriorated…There was evidence that concrete washout water had overflowed its containment structure and discharged into the storm drain.” 

“…a portion of the site was flooded and there was a significant amount of foamy water adjacent to the concrete washout area.”

Homebuilder in Santa Ana Region
Complaint No. R8-2003-0100 for Administrative Civil Liability
Imposed Fine - $50,000
“…the concrete washout pit was not maintained and did not effectively contain concrete slurry…the concrete washout pit was full of solid waste and surrounded by concrete slurry”

“…slurry from the concrete washout pit flowed into the street…stucco washout flowed into the street and into the storm drain inlet.”

Homebuilder in Santa Ana Region
Complaint No. R8-2003-0024 for Administrative Civil Liability
Imposed Fine - $55,000
“A milky white liquid was discharging from uncovered on site roll-off bin.  The pollutants discharging from the bin had commingled with storm water runoff and migrated to an area near a protected wetland…”

Homebuilder in Central Coast Region
Complaint No. R3-2003-0103 for Administrative Civil Liability
Imposed Fine - $58,500
“Residual concrete from a washout area had apparently overflowed and left the site…Inadequate BMP’s for the control of erosion and sediment.”

Construction in Santa Ana Region
Complaint No. R8-2003-0031 for Administrative Civil Liability
Imposed Fine - $30,000
“BMP’s implemented at the site were not adequate to control the discharge of pollutants from the site…inadequately protected for cementitious (plaster waste) materials.  There were no noticeable BMP’s implemented for control of plaster or stucco materials.”

Homebuilder in Southern California
Regulated Fine - $27,500 / day
“…spills of concrete wash water, paint, stucco wash water and paint wash water”

“…overflowing concrete wash-out areas that were overflowing into storm drains”

Nationwide Violations

Although the previous examples originate from within California, most states are adopting and enforcing more stringent standards of their water pollution control regulations.  In fact, many states have chosen to include discharges into groundwater and not just surface waters, as covered under the Clean Water Act, as additional types of regulated discharges.  An example of this could be ready mixed concrete facilities or other yards that wash out into unlined settling ponds.

In these types of practices or on construction jobsites where improper containment measures are employed, there is the distinct possibility and likelihood of creating an illegal discharge.  Rainwater or water from another source will attach to these pollutants and carry them off as stormwater, infiltrate the groundwater or both.