U.S. Water News Online
MISSOULA, Mont. -- State environmental regulators have
ordered the developer of a controversial subdivision along Rock Creek
to pay $23,500 in penalties for discharging wastewater into the Clark
The state Department of Environmental Quality said LEMB Co. LLC,
based in Oregon, violated state water quality laws when it discharged
sediment-laden wastewater into the river on three separate occasions
The discharges occurred during excavation of a pond on the
200-acre parcel where LEMB's owner, Michael Barnes, has said he wants
to build a 36-lot subdivision.
The violations were documented by a Missoula County sanitarian and
local residents, who twice took pictures of turbid water in the river
caused by discharge from an irrigation ditch on Barnes' property,
according to the violation notice.
Barnes doesn't disagree with the state about the discharge and
"intends to take full responsibility for the error," said Alan
McCormick, LEMB's Missoula-based attorney.
"LEMB Company acknowledges that the contractor it hired to
construct the pond mistakenly directed water from the excavation site
into the Clark Fork," McCormick said.
He said once notified of the violation, LEMB "took prompt action
to correct the mistake, and no further discharges have occurred."
He said the violation notice did, however, contain some factual
errors, and the company plans to discuss those with the state.
"Depending on how willing DEQ is to discuss those errors will
determine whether or not there will be an appeal," McCormick said.
Barnes' subdivision plans for the property have been met with
opposition from neighbors and others interested in the future of Rock
Creek, a popular trout stream.
John Menson, president of the Rock Creek Protective Association,
applauded DEQ's decision to require the company to pay a penalty.
"The state recognizes this issue isn't a temporary problem,"
His group sued LEMB last spring, alleging the company was
circumventing county subdivision regulations, digging in the
floodplain without a permit and violating state environmental laws.
That suit has since been dropped.
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