Business Briefs

John Wieland Homes pays penalty for stormwater runoff

Posted November 9, 2009 2:06 p.m. EST

— John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods Inc. and John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods of the Carolinas Inc. have agreed to pay a $350,000 civil penalty to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act, the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday.

Environmental regulators alleged a pattern of violations that was discovered by reviewing documentation submitted by the companies and through federal site inspections. The alleged violations included failing to obtain required permits or not obtaining permits until after construction had begun. At the sites that did have permits, violations included failure to prevent or minimize the discharge of pollutants, such as silt and debris, in stormwater runoff.

The settlement requires the companies to develop improved pollution prevention plans for each site, increase site inspections and promptly correct any problems that are detected. The companies must properly train construction managers and contractors and are required to have trained staff present at each construction site. They also must implement a management and internal reporting system to improve oversight of on-the-ground operations and submit annual reports to EPA.

The compliance programs go beyond current regulatory requirements, and EPA officials estimated that the agreement will keep about 37 million pounds of sediment from polluting the nation’s waterways each year.

“The Clean Water Act requires environmental controls in order to protect nearby waterways from pollutants that commonly are found on construction sites,” John C. Cruden, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, said in a statement. “This settlement requires these companies to now take steps beyond the law to protect public health and the environment.”