The Washington Department of Ecology has reached a settlement agreement with Portland-based 1108 South Hillhurst Subdivision LLC for a $135,000 penalty issued for multiple water quality violations that took place at Vista Ridge PUD subdivision in Ridgefield.
In the settlement agreement, the company will make 10 monthly payments of $13,500, rather than a lump sum payment of $135,000. The payments are due at the first of the month starting in February and will conclude in November of 2023.
The contractor was fined in June of 2022 for repeatedly discharging polluted construction stormwater into a tributary of Gee Creek. The company also failed to follow numerous best management practices required under its Construction Stormwater General Permit, despite being offered technical assistance on at least five separate occasions by Ecology staff.
From September of 2021 through February of 2022, Ecology inspectors documented seven instances of polluted construction stormwater that found its way to a tributary of Gee Creek. Other ongoing permit violations included the company failing to submit discharge monitoring reports, insufficient sediment controls, and unstabilized soils.
Gee Creek is a tributary to the Columbia River and a potential home to cutthroat, steelhead, coho, chum, and fall chinook. Ecology, along with its public and private partners, have been working to improve water quality in the Gee Creek watershed through the Gee Creek Watershed Restoration Plan.
Stormwater runoff from construction sites can carry muddy water and debris into local waterways. Sediments, chemicals, and debris can harm aquatic life and reduce water quality. Ecology requires regulated construction sites like the Vista Ridge PUD subdivision to get coverage under the Construction Stormwater General Permit and comply with the permit’s requirements.
Water quality penalty payments to Ecology are placed into the state’s Coastal Protection Fund, which provides grants to public agencies and Tribes for water quality restoration projects.