Carroll County Times

County pays $40K for stormwater violations to EPA

Corrective actions have been taken and a $40,000 fine has been paid by Carroll County government after it failed to comply with the federal water pollution and quality standards.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced recently that the county has settled alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act. As part of the settlement, Carroll did not admit liability for the alleged violations but it did agree to pay the $40,000 civil penalty and signed an administrative order that included a schedule for correcting the violations, according to County Attorney Tim Burke.

The EPA's complaint specifically cited Carroll for failing to identify and map all stormwater outfalls, failing to develop and implement required procedures to inspect active construction sites, failing to ensure that all county facilities were properly permitted and inspected for compliance, and failing to develop a hotline for residents to report illicit stormwater discharges.

Tom Devilbiss, deputy director of Carroll County's Department of Land Use, Planning and Development, said the violations stemmed from a rigorous two-day inspection performed in April 2012. The EPA hired contractors to inspect all holders of a specific environmental permit in the region.

Devilbiss described Carroll's violations as "extremely minor."

"Under no circumstances were the violations linked to the polluting of waters or anything like that," Devilbiss said. "It was all administrative things. It was not a technical issue where there was a contaminate discharge. Nothing like that."

Devilbiss said the county has already developed corrective actions and it is waiting for approval from the EPA before implementing them.

"It's a shame we had to spend $40,000 when we could have used that to do actual [environmental improvement projects]," Devilbiss said. "It's just disappointing."

The Clean Water Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1972, establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters, according to the EPA's website.