When EPA creates a web page solely addressing one stormwater settlement, you can safely assume that EPA thinks it is important and is trying to send a message. Thus, EPA’s announcement earlier this week of a settlement with Beazer Homes to resolve allegations that Beazer Homes violated federal stormwater requirements at construction sites in 21 – count ‘em, 21 – states should make everyone in the construction industry sit up and take notice.
The settlement requires Beazer Homes to pay a penalty of $925,000 (mostly to EPA, but some to each of the states). EPA estimated a price tag for the injunctive relief of almost $9,487,384. Basically, the consent decree simply requires Beazer Homes to comply with stormwater regulations, but EPA has imposed certain management requirements on Beazer Homes to ensure that compliance really will happen. Beazer Homes must develop an overall stormwater compliance program, designate a nationwide stormwater compliance manager, and also identify division-level compliance managers who must inspect every construction site within their jurisdiction at least quarterly to ensure that individual sites are in compliance.
Stormwater is clearly one of EPA’s top priorities. The press release for the Beazer Homes settlement states so explicitly:
Keeping contaminated stormwater out of America’s waters is one of EPA’s national enforcement initiatives.
As concerns about nutrients increase, and EPA faces pressure from citizen groups regarding TMDLs for nutrients, we should only expect more such announcements. An ounce of prevention might be worth $9,487,384 of cure (not including a penalty).