Sumner couple to pay penalty for Clean Water Act violation
August 18, 2010 · 5:03 PM
A Sumner couple is to pay an $18,000 penalty fee for altering wetlands without obtaining proper documentation.
Michael and Stacey Ota agreed to pay the fee after allegedly violating the Clean Water Act.
In 2005, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Otas placed fill material into four acres of wetlands. The Otas planned to use the acres for farming. They own other land on which they already farmed.
On July 29 EPA ordered the Otas to restore the area affected by the work and the Otas restored the site as required.
This is not the first time the Ota's property needed to be restored due to unauthorized work. In 1996 Michael Ota filled wetlands at his property without obtaining a permit. He restored the site the same year with assistance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Waters from the Otas' wetlands flow into Jovita Creek before entering the White River, which is a fish-bearing stream.
Before beginning work on wetlands a permit needs to be obtained and the owners of the land must consult with the Army CORP of Engineers. The CORP of engineers would determine ways to mitigate the work on the wetlands and obtain the permit for the party applying for it.
Krista Rave-Perkins, of the Environmental Protection Agency Wetlands Program, said the couple may continue farming on the part of their land which is non-wetland area.
She is satisfied with the efforts of the Otas to be in compliance and restore the wetlands.
"They did a very good job at it," Perkins said.
“Landowners who plan to work in wetlands or other waters must obtain the right permits and follow the requirements to protect these valuable resources,” said Tom Eaton, Director of EPA’s Washington Operations Office. “Wetlands like this help maintain water temperature in fish spawning areas.”