EPA and Western Equipment & Truck, Inc., agree on plan to address company’s impacts to Big Thompson River habitat
Western Equipment & Truck, Inc., to remedy environmental impacts associated with alleged Clean Water Act violations
DENVER (December 1, 2020) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized an administrative order on consent with Western Equipment & Truck, Inc., resolving alleged violations of the Clean Water Act related to unpermitted earthmoving activities, discharges to the Big Thompson River and its adjacent wetlands, and violations of a state-issued stormwater discharge permit in Milliken in Weld County, Colorado.
“With this action, EPA is helping to ensure the protection of one of Colorado’s Front Range waterways, the Big Thompson River, and its adjacent wetlands,” said Suzanne Bohan, Director of EPA Region 8’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division. “We appreciate Western Equipment and Truck’s commitment to restore wetlands and take the necessary steps to comply with its stormwater permit to address the adverse impacts to Colorado waters.”
In January 2019, the Town of Milliken notified the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) that a segment of the Big Thompson River and its adjacent wetlands had been impacted without a permit required to do work in Colorado’s waterways. The Corps inspected the site on January 14, 2019, and observed that soil and rock had been placed in and along approximately 1,000 feet of the Big Thompson River and adjacent wetlands without authorization from the Corps. The following month, after being alerted by the Corps of possible stormwater violations, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) inspected the site. Also present at that inspection were representatives from the Corps, EPA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Town of Milliken. CDPHE found numerous violations of stormwater regulations including unauthorized discharges of stormwater, an inadequate stormwater management plan, and failure to implement stormwater pollution control measures.
Under the terms of the order, Western Equipment & Truck has agreed to submit and implement a restoration plan to remedy the impacts of the earthmoving activities to the Big Thompson River and adjacent wetlands. Western Equipment & Truck also has agreed to correct stormwater pollution prevention violations associated with the facility’s discharge permit issued by the CDPHE. This case will result in the restoration of approximately 10.5 acres of wetlands and stabilization of over 1,000 linear feet of stream to restore habitat along the river.
The portions of the Big Thompson River and adjacent wetlands disturbed by the unauthorized activities provide numerous functions and values including aquatic and wildlife habitat, runoff conveyance, groundwater recharge, recreation, and aesthetics. The area also includes habitat, as confirmed by the USFWS, for Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Placement of dredged or fill material into the Big Thompson River and its adjacent wetlands can have adverse impacts on fish and wildlife habitat and the plants and insects they rely on as food sources. Failure to comply with construction stormwater requirements also can degrade the quality of water for drinking, wildlife, and the aquatic and riparian ecosystems as sediment and other pollutants such as oil and grease, heavy metals, pesticides, fertilizers, and bacteria also can be entrained in stormwater and discharged into receiving waters.
Under the Clean Water Act, dredge and fill activities conducted in waters of the U.S., such as the Big Thompson River and certain wetlands, are subject to permitting programs operated by the Corps and CDPHE. The permitting process is intended to allow necessary work to occur, while ensuring it is completed in a manner that prevents and minimizes impacts to water quality and aquatic resources.
Before performing any work in Colorado that results in discharges of dredged or fill material into rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands, any person planning to do such work should contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Denver Regulatory Office (9307 South Wadsworth Boulevard, Littleton, CO 80128; telephone 303-979-4120; email DenverRegulatoryMailbox@usace.army.mil) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, (4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver, CO 80246; telephone 303-692-2000; email email@example.com) to determine if a permit is needed.
For more information on the Clean Water Act, visit EPA's compliance web page: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/civil/cwa/index.html
Help EPA protect our nation's land, air, and water by reporting violations: http://www.epa.gov/tips/
For more information on Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/cwa-404/permit-program-under-cwa-section-404