Contractor fined for mud, erosion violations in North Bend sewer project

A contractor for North Bend's Tanner sewer extension was slapped with a fine by the Washington State Department of Ecology for mud and soil erosion from the project.

Ecology fined Northwest Cascade Inc., $20,000 for failing to protect against soil erosion and allowing vehicles to track mud onto roadways.

The construction stormwater permit violations occurred as the contractor worked on the city's sewer-extension project in the vicinity of Southeast North Bend Way, Tanner Road, Southeast 140th Street and 468th Avenue Southeast near Truck Town.

"Expanding sewer service will better protect water quality," said Kevin Fitzpatrick, Ecology's regional water quality manager. "Even so, the contractor installing the lines has a responsibility to prevent pollution. This requirement is basic to all construction and can never be overlooked."

Ecology personnel observed soil left exposed after installation of sewer pipes in March and April 2010. The company also failed to properly maintain a system at a construction staging area entrance meant to prevent departing vehicles from tracking mud onto 468th Avenue.

Muddy or silty water that reaches streams can harm fish and other aquatic life. The fine particles damage fish gills and settle into stream gravel, destroying habitat that fish depend on.

Ecology fined the company $3,000 in March 2010 for similar violations in January and March on the same project.

"Northwest Cascade is committed to protecting water quality during all construction projects and has an excellent track record," said Marty Diklich, the company's president. "We take compliance seriously and work proactively to meet or exceed best management practices."

Northwest Cascade may request an Ecology review of the penalty or may appeal it to the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board. Proceeds from water quality penalties enter Ecology's Coastal Protection Fund, which awards grants for local, state and tribal government habitat improvement projects.

Ecology's ongoing water quality permitting programs are part of the department's efforts to meet the state's goal of restoring Puget Sound by 2020 and to protect citizens and the environment from toxic threats.

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