Thursday, March 23, 2023
March 23, 2023

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Ecology fines contractor $135,000 for Ridgefield water quality violations

By , Columbian staff writer

A Portland contractor was fined $135,000 for repeated water quality violations while working at Ridgefield’s Vista Ridge subdivision. The fines were levied by the Washington Department of Ecology for violations that occurred from September 2021 to February 2022.

According to Ecology, the contractor, 1108 South Hillhurst Subdivision LLC, was fined 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.”

Ecology inspectors documented seven instances of polluted construction stormwater flowing into a Gee Creek tributary, while other permit violations included failing to submit discharge monitoring reports, insufficient sediment controls and unstabilized soils, a Department of Ecology press release said.

Stormwater runoff from construction sites can carry muddy water and debris into local waterways where sediments, chemicals and debris can harm aquatic life and reduce water quality. Ecology requires regulated construction sites, like the Vista Ridge subdivision, to obtain a construction stormwater general permit and comply with permit requirements.

Gee Creek is a Columbia River tributary that runs through the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and several Ridgefield neighborhoods. The creek provides habitat for cutthroat trout and steelhead, along with several species of salmon including coho, chum and fall chinook.

Ecology and its public and private partners have been working to improve water quality in the Gee Creek watershed through the Gee Creek Watershed Restoration Plan, the press release said.

The contractor has 30 days to pay the penalty or appeal it to the Pollution Control Hearings Board.