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EPA files complaint against Hauula landowner for unpermitted discharge

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today said it has filed a complaint against property owner Frank Alo for discharging fill material into wetlands without a required permit in Hauula.

The discharge was made without authorization and in violation of Section 404 the Clean Water Act. Under Section 404, a permit is required from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before dredged or fill material may be discharged into waters of the United States, including wetlands.

If such a violation occurs, USACE may elect to refer an enforcement case to the EPA.

“The Clean Water Act requires permits to protect the nation’s water resources,” said Amy Miller, EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Director of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, in a news release. “Placing unauthorized fill material into wetlands can degrade water quality and result in serious impacts to fish and wildlife habitat.”

Alo discharged approximately 200 truckloads of gravel, asphalt, clay, dirt, and other fill material to wetlands onto his property and four adjoining properties on or around February 2018, according to inspections by the EPA and USACE.

The material reached approximately 0.77 acres of wetland waters, the complaint said. The proposed penalty is up to $282,293.

EPA said the basic premise of the permit program is to prevent the discharge of dredged or filled material if an alternative less damaging to the aquatic environment exists, or if the nation’s waters would be significantly degraded.

When applying for a permit, parties must “show that steps have been taken to avoid impacts to wetlands, streams and other aquatic resources; that potential impacts have been minimized; and that compensation will be provided for all remaining unavoidable impacts.”

“One of the principal objectives of the Clean Water Act is to avoid and minimize impacts to waters of the U.S., including wetlands,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Regional Regulatory Chief David Hobbie in a statement. “Wetlands support a diverse ecosystem and provides important functions such as flood protection, improved water quality and habitat for native birds.”

The complaint is subject to a 30-day public comment period. Comments can be submitted in writing with Docket Number CWA-09-2021-0049 to the Regional Hearing Clerk at r9hearingclerk@epa.gov or Steven Armsey, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9, 75 Hawthorne Street (ORC-1), San Francisco, CA 94105.

Comments will be accepted through Aug. 6.

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