The Washington Department of Ecology has settled a $136,000 penalty issued to Hamilton Excavating LLC for multiple construction stormwater violations.
In the settlement, Hamilton agrees to pay a $25,000 fine, provide $90,000 to an Ecology-approved environmental project that will benefit water quality in the Lewis River watershed, and enroll at least one key employee in a stormwater compliance training course. The environmental project must be completed within one year after approval and the stormwater compliance course requires completion by April 2023.
The Battle Ground contractor was fined for discharging polluted construction stormwater into a tributary of the East Fork Lewis River during construction at the Highland Terrace Subdivision in La Center. The company also failed to follow numerous best management practices required under its Construction Stormwater General Permit.
From November 2020 to October 2021, Ecology inspectors documented seven instances of polluted construction stormwater that found its way to a tributary of the East Fork Lewis River. Other ongoing permit violations included the non-submittal of Discharge Monitoring Reports, failure to notify Ecology of high sediment discharges, insufficient sediment controls, and destabilized soils and channels.
The East Fork Lewis River and its tributaries are home to Endangered Species Act-listed fish, including winter and summer steelhead, coho, chum, and fall chinook. Ecology, along with its public and private partners, have been working to improve water quality in the watershed through the East Fork Lewis River Partnership for Clean Water.
Stormwater runoff from construction sites can carry muddy water, debris, and chemicals into local waterways. Sediments, chemicals, and debris can harm aquatic life and reduce water quality. Ecology requires regulated construction sites like the Highland Terrace Subdivision to get coverage under the Construction Stormwater General Permit.
Water quality penalty payments are placed into the state’s Coastal Protection Fund, which provides grants to public agencies and Tribes for water quality restoration projects.