Colorado Firm Cut Stream Channel Through City Illegally

DENVER, Colorado, January 20, 2008 (ENS) – Acting without a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit, a contractor excavated a new stream channel on open space property belonging to the City of Lafayette, Colorado without the city’s permission or knowledge.

Now, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Kenneth L. Schell and Twin Peaks Excavating, Inc. of Lafayette to restore the section of Rock Creek and adjacent wetlands that they damaged last spring in violation of the Clean Water Act.

Schell and Twin Peaks excavated a new stream channel in Rock Creek, filled adjacent wetlands with sidecast materials and then filled 150 feet of the original channel.

The EPA order requires Schell and Twin Peaks to remove all unauthorized material placed into the creek and to restore the creek and wetlands to pre-impact conditions.

Michael Risner, EPA Region 8 legal enforcement director, said, “EPA is taking this action to protect Colorado rivers, wetlands and lakes and to provide deterrence against future violations of federal laws designed to protect valuable water resources.”

Rock Creek and its adjacent wetlands provide aquatic and wildlife habitat, flood attenuation, groundwater recharge, recreation and aesthetics, Risner says.

Placing dredged or fill material in creeks, streams, rivers, or wetlands can have adverse impacts on fish and wildlife habitat and their food sources, such as plants or insects, he says.

The parties in violation of the law are not novices. Twin Peaks Excavating grosses about $12 million a year installing water lines, utilities, and storm and sanitary sewers. In a month’s time, the firm might handle 20 jobs ranging from $20,000 to $1 million or so.

“We mainly work for private developers and general contractors,” said Senior Estimator Todd Greff in a 2005 interview with “Grading and Contractor” magazine. “We have five larger pipeline crews and three small ones.”

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permit is required before performing any work that results in discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, which include lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands.

The federal Clean Water Act prohibits discharges of dredged or fill material unless authorized by a Corps permit.

Anyone planning to do work in such waters must contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Denver Regulatory Office, 9307 South Wadsworth Ave., Littleton, CO 80128-6901, telephone: 303-979-4120.

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