Sediment carried by stormwater is a leading cause of water pollution in the U.S. Silt and sediment (mud) runs off the exposed earth at construction sites when the land is cleared and graded. It’s estimated that runoff from construction sites sends approximately 80 million tons of sediment into the nation’s water bodies each year. This mud can choke lakes, rivers, and streams, and destroy wildlife habitat and downstream properties.
State and federal laws require construction site operators engaged in clearing, grading, and excavating activities that disturb one acre or more, including smaller sites in a larger common plan of development or sale, to obtain coverage under a Clean Water Act permit. In addition, these laws require site operators to use a host of techniques to prevent mud from washing offsite. These techniques are called Best Management Practices or BMPs.
Considerable development across the Southeast has caused construction stormwater problems throughout the region. By comparison, regulators have dramatically shrinking budgets and too few personnel to inspect construction sites and enforce stormwater regulations. Therefore, construction runoff presents a problem that often goes unchecked and causes property damage downstream. We have seen examples where property owners’ lakes and ponds are filled with sediment that washed onto their property; where new developments direct stormwater onto adjacent landowners’ property causing flooding; and where mud slides onto downstream property from upstream construction sites.
Lawyers in our firm are currently reviewing cases that involve property damage due to construction stormwater runoff, including a potential claim in Georgia against one of the largest homebuilders in the U.S. This particular homebuilder has a long track record of violating stormwater laws and for damaging downstream properties. If you need additional information on this subject, contact Rhon Jones in our firm at 800-898-2034 or by email at Rhon.Jones@beasleyallen.com.
Sources: U.S. EPA, Waterkeeper Alliance
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