A Leavenworth excavator has been fined $20,000 for violating water quality regulations when he constructed a bulkhead along the Wenatchee River without an approved plan, or federal, state and local permits.
The work was conducted by Hillside Excavating owner Terry Drexler along two waterfront parcels in the Ponderosa Estates Community. State departments of Ecology, Fish and Wildlife, and Natural Resources, along with Chelan County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, inspected the properties in response to a citizen complaint in June 2015.
Ecology cited Drexler for using heavy earthmoving equipment along the Wenatchee River without approval, altering the stream bank, removing vegetation and disturbing soil, which can cause unstable slopes and dirty water.
Some 90 feet of shoreline was replaced by hardscape boulders, destroying diverse and complex vegetation that protects aquatic habitat. Straightened and smoothed stream banks cause flows to increase in velocity and can lead to flooding and damage to downstream properties.
Property owners who hired Drexler agreed to obtain necessary permits and hire an engineer to take action to minimize erosion this winter until a long-term solution can be designed.
The bulkhead wall must be removed and the shoreline stabilized, using large logs, native plants and strategically placed rock to restore the habitat lost, in consultation with professional biologists, engineers and permitting agencies.
Hillside Excavating has 30 days to pay the penalty or may file an appeal with the Pollution Control Hearings Board.