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EPA penalizes private landowner for violating the Clean Water Act by discharging fill into the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River

Jan 24, 2024

SEATTLE – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that Michael Gagliano agreed to pay a penalty of $8,000 for violating the Clean Water Act when he discharged fill material into the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River at his property in Pinehurst, Idaho.

Beginning in September 2022, Gagliano discharged large rocks below the ordinary high-water mark of the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River without a Clean Water Act permit. The unauthorized discharges occurred within the Bunker Hill Superfund Site. As a result, these discharges likely mobilized highly contaminated sediment and mine tailings frequently found throughout the site. This type of mobilization is often exacerbated by high-flow events following heavy rains or snowmelt.

“Property owners must get the necessary Clean Water Act permits to make sure that any work impacting waters of the United States is done in a way that protects the health of the ecosystem and minimizes the impact to sources of drinking water and water used for recreation.” said EPA Region 10 Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Director Ed Kowalski. “These types of Clean Water Act enforcement actions are important in protecting our valuable water resources and are especially important in areas within Superfund sites with highly contaminated sediments.”

The unauthorized discharges occurred when the landowner attempted to increase armoring of the riverbank. This activity, especially when combined with similar bank armoring activities throughout a river system, can have dramatic and long-term impacts on ecosystem health and can result in increased riverbank scouring and erosion on adjacent properties.

In addition to paying the penalty, Gagliano agreed to remove the fill material and restore the site prioritizing slope stabilization, erosion reduction, and establishing vegetation along the riverbank.

EPA Region 10 worked closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, Idaho Department of Water Resources, and the Panhandle Health District on an appropriate resolution to the violation. 

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This is the second Clean Water Act enforcement action brought by EPA within the Bunker Hill Superfund Site during the last couple of years. In 2022, Cody Karst of Pinehurst was required to pay a $14,000 penalty and restore wetlands that he damaged, also along a portion of the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River, and a tributary to the river. 

 

Additional details of the Gagliano matter can be found in the Consent Agreement and Final Order.

Contact: R10 Public Affairs Office, [email protected]

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