Developer Agrees to Mitigate Impacts to Streams and Wetlands
Nearly Decade-long Clean Water Act Dispute Ends
WASHINGTON (January 19, 2021) — A developer and his companies have agreed to effectuate $900,000 in compensatory mitigation, preserve undisturbed riparian areas, conduct erosion-control work on streams, and be subject to a prohibitory injunction to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) on property north of Houston, Texas, the Justice Department announced today.
“Today’s substantial settlement involving the unpermitted filling of streams and wetlands, if approved by the court, will draw to a close this long-running Clean Water Act litigation,” said Eric Grant, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Today’s agreement serves the public interest in enforcement of the Clean Water Act and provides long-overdue mitigation for these alleged violations.”
The case stems from activities Thomas Lipar conducted to create the Benders Landing Estates housing development on property containing streams and wetlands that feed into Spring Creek and the West Fork of the San Jacinto River, which, in turn, flow into Lake Houston.
Beginning in 2005, the defendants operated earthmoving machinery and filled substantial segments of streams and acres of abutting wetlands. Despite receiving information about the aquatic condition of the property, Lipar did not seek a CWA dredge-or-fill permit. The settlement agreement reached today secures significant mitigation for these alleged violations, while providing fairness for developers who comply with the applicable laws.
The case is styled United States v. Lipar, No. 4:10-cv-01904 (S.D. Tex.). The proposed consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court in Houston, is subject to a 30-day comment period and final court approval. A copy of the proposed consent decree is available on the Justice Department website at https://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees.