Tamarack Resort will pay a $185,000 fine for polluting streams and Lake Cascade with sediment during construction on the resort's property southwest of Donnelly in 2005 and 2006.
"We expect all industries to comply with the Clean Water Act," said Ronald J. Tenpas, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "This settlement will ensure that future construction at this site will comply with applicable federal laws."
"It's critically important that all land developers, like Tamarack Resort, pay close attention to storm water management during construction," U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Elin D. Miller said. "If too large a land area is opened up at one time, construction runoff is uncontrollable and nearby streams and lakes can be damaged."
The violations did not surprise McCall resident Tuck Miller, who. once worked for the resort as a consultant. Miller made the same claims to The Star-News in June 2006 that the resort was failing to keep pollutants out of streams and the lake.
"Tamarack has hid behind a false image of being environmentalists while they have dumped tons of sediment into Cascade Reservoir through Rock and Poison creeks," Miller said after learning of the settlement.
Winter Work Restricted
The agreement also calls for the resort to restrict its winter construction schedule this year and improve its runoff practices.
The agreement restricts earthwork at the resort from Nov. 15 through March 15 to three acres below 5,100 feet elevation. The resort is also allowed to build one mile of private driveways in the winter.
At the Fairmont Bayview Hotel site, the resort is limited to six acres of earthwork during the winter of 2008-09.
No earthwork above 5,100 feet in elevation is permitted at any time during the winter.
EPA inspectors visited the resort on Apri121 and Oct. 13, 2005 and again on April 20, 2006.
Violations of the resort's storm water permits were found at all the inspections. The original complaint filed in the fall of 2006 noted several violations at the resort.
"Construction activities have resulted in discharges of storm water to the streams traversing the site and to Cascade Reservoir," the complaint said. "These discharges occurred on a regular basis since the onset of construction at the site."
The complaint listed sand, dirt, sediment, suspended solids, residue, turbidity and concrete wash.
The initial complaint also said the resort was discharging pollutants without a federal permit from at least Sept. 1, 2003 to March 16, 2004.
Tamarack Blames Water Line Break
"In 2005, after the accidental break of a water line, the EPA asserted various violations against
Tamarack," Tamarack Resort CEO J. P Boespflug said in a statement issued by the resort.
"Tamarack did not acknowledge any wrongdoing in dealing with the accident but to avoid protracted and costly litigation with the federal government recently entered into a consent decree involving a settlement in the amount of $185,000," Boespflug said.
EPA Compliance Officer Robert Grandinetti refuted Boespflug's assertion that the violations were due to an accidental break of a water line.
"The pipe break did create a large amount of runoff from the site," Grandinetti said. "However, the installation of it was flawed according to an engineering report done by one of Tamarack's consultants. As for the pipe break being the only violation that is not true."
"We performed inspections three different days about six months apart from each and found violations at each of the inspections," he said. "Tamarack consistently failed to have complete best management practices at the site in order to prevent runoff and erosion of sediment."
The EPA was notified about problems at Tamarack by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, who passed along several calls from concerned citizens, including Miller, Grandinetti said.