The Justice Department announced Friday it had reached an agreement with a Long County developer over "unauthorized" discharges into U.S. Waters. Here's what the release said:
The United States today announced Friday it reached an agreement with a Long County developer in connection with unauthorized discharges into waters of the United States at three sites planned for residential subdivisions. The complaint was brought in 2016 by the U. S. Department of Justice and the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia, on behalf of U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District.
The Clean Water Act requires any person who plans to discharge dredged or fill material into waters of the United States to obtain a permit from the Corps. The complaint alleges that defendants discharged fill material into federally protected waters without authorization at three Long County sites over a number of years, failed to pay an administrative penalty assessed in 2014, and failed to comply with a previous settlement agreement intended to resolve Clean Water Act violations at one of the three sites.
The agreement requires William L. Nutting and three related entities—Georgia Coastal Land Company, Provident Land Holdings, Co., Provident Construction Co.—to restore two sites, pay monetary penalties, and take steps to mitigate past harms and prevent future violations.
The Corps frequently works with developers to avoid and resolve potential violations. “These defendants disregarded several opportunities to voluntarily comply with the law,” Acting United States Attorney James Durham said. “We will continue to work with our partners at the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environment and Natural Resources Division to hold accountable anyone who places their own financial interests above those of this community.” This is the first recovery of civil penalties for violations of the Clean Water Act in the history of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia.
“We take our obligation to enforce regulations to protect the nation’s waters seriously,” said Shaun Blocker, Project Manager with the Savannah District. “Law-abiding developers should not face a competitive disadvantage due to the illegal actions of a few, and unsuspecting homeowners should not have to risk suffering the consequences of illegal activities,” Blocker said. Blocker originally investigated the case and brought the violations to the attention of the Justice Department.
The proposed consent decree has been lodged in the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. A copy is available on the Department of Justice website at: https://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees.