Home Builders Face Major Penalties for Violations of Clean Water Act

Toll Brothers Inc., a Pennsylvania-based home building company, has been fined $741,000 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a civil penalty for violations of the Clean Water Act. Toll Brothers is one the country's largest home building companies, focusing on residential luxury home construction. These violations occurred at 370 different construction sites in 23 states, including 40 sites located in the vulnerable Chesapeake Bay Watershed region.

The Clean Water Act, regulates the discharge of pollutants into the waters of the United States, while also regulating the quality standard for surface water supplies. According to the stipulations of the Act, it is illegal to discharge any kind of pollutant into navigable waters without first obtaining a permit from the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). Toll Brothers is accused of repeatedly failing to comply with Act requirements that mandate the use of control systems on construction sites to monitor and limit the amount of toxic storm water runoff emanating from these locations.

In additional to the hefty fine, Toll Brothers will have to comply with a long list of government mandates designed to reduce storm water runoff and sediments at its construction sites, helping to avoid contamination of local drinking water supplies and also reducing the damaging impact the company's operations had on aquatic habitats neighboring its construction sites. The EPA and the Department of Justice estimate that 217 million pounds of toxic runoff and sediments will be eliminated annually as a result of the settlement.

A joint statement released by the two prosecuting agencies said, "The settlement requires Toll Brothers to obtain all required permits, develop site-specific pollution prevention plans for each construction site, conduct additional site inspections beyond those required by storm water regulations and document and promptly correct any problems." All of the company's construction managers and contractors must also undergo storm water training, and the company will have to submit national compliance summary reports to the EPA on a regular basis.

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