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EPA orders mining company to comply with Clean Water Act in Santa Barbara County

Release Date: 5/10/2005
Contact Information: Margot Perez-Sullivan 415-947-4149

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently ordered GPS River Rock Products, Inc. to improve stormwater controls and submit a mitigation plan to restore 22 acres of river habitat in the Cuyama River watershed to compensate for environmental damage caused by mining activities in Santa Barbara County.

During inspections in 2004 and 2005, EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials found the company was discharging dredged and fill material into the Cuyama River without the required federal Clean Water Act permit. Inspectors determined the activities were responsible for degrading 22 acres of river habitat in the Cuyama River. EPA inspectors also found the company in violation of the California stormwater permit.

“The Cuyama River is an important aquatic resource that protects water quality and provides habitat for wildlife,” said Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Water Division. “We will continue to work with GPS to ensure their activities comply with the Clean Water Act.”

The order requires GPS River Rock Products to retain an independent contractor to prepare an off-site mitigation project plan. The mitigation plan must preserve and enhance 22 acres of waters within the Cuyama River watershed. Also GPS must comply with existing California stormwater permits by revising and submitting a stormwater pollution prevention plan and improving storm water controls.

GPS River Rock Products operates an 80-acre site in Ventucopa for a variety of industrial activities including, excavating sand and rock, crushing gravel, and handling raw materials.

Failure to comply with the order could result in fines up to $32,500 per day per violation.