OLYMPIA - The developer of an Aberdeen housing project is being fined $79,000 by the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) for violating the water quality permit requirements and an order designed to correct the problems.
Ed Christensen of Aberdeen Landing LLC is developing a 332-home development on Fleet Street near Highway 12. The project is required to use recognized construction stormwater practices to minimize soil erosion and properly treat and control polluted runoff.
Ecology staff conducting permit compliance visits observed several violations, which continued even after Christensen received warning letters, technical assistance for correcting the problems and an administrative order requiring action.
"Ecology staff have invested a lot of time and effort to help Mr. Christensen understand his obligations under the construction stormwater permit," said Ecology water quality manager Kelly Susewind. "Unfortunately, his project continues to have problems, and we need to escalate the consequences of non-compliance."
Ecology initially inspected the property in November 2007 and outlined erosion control problems for Christensen in a letter. The site conditions worsened by the time Ecology returned for a follow-up visit in February 2008. Ecology staff then observed new violations, including the release of untreated runoff and muddy water discharges that had the potential to damage Wilson and neighboring creeks.
State law prohibits the release of muddy (turbid) runoff to ditches, creeks, streams, rivers and other waters of the state. If not settled out before being discharged, the sediment in turbid water can cover fish spawning beds, rendering them useless for future spawning. The sediment can also smother eggs that have been laid and irritate the gills of fish in the stream.
When the problems hadn't been addressed by a June inspection, Ecology issued Christensen an administrative order in October 2008 requiring that specific actions be taken.
Christensen replied to the order, stating that due to financial constraints he hadn't been able to meet the permit requirements. However, he outlined steps he would take. It was apparent during an Ecology follow up visit that he had taken few of those actions and that problems remained. The soils continued to be unstable, best management practices weren't kept up, and slopes were left unprotected, leading to
Christensen has 30 days to appeal Ecology's decision to the state Pollution Control Hearings Board, file a request for reconsideration with Ecology or pay the penalty in full.
The money collected from water quality penalties is placed in a subaccount of the Coastal Protection Fund. Ecology uses the fund to provide grants to local environmental enhancement and restoration projects sponsored by local governments, tribes and other state agencies.