The Ryland Group, one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, will pay a civil penalty of $625,000 to resolve alleged Clean Water Act violations at its various construction sites across the country. Florida is one of 14 states to be affected by the violations.
A government complaint alleges a pattern of permit and stormwater violations by Ryland, discovered through site inspections. According to the complaint, the company failed to develop complete stormwater pollution prevention plans, conduct adequate inspections and install adequate stormwater controls at their sites.
Ryland often failed to obtain permits until after construction began and, in some cases, failed to obtain permits at all. When the company did procure a proper permit, it often failed to comply with some of the permit requirements and often discharged pollutants directly into stormwater — a direct violation of the Clean Water Act.
According to a press release, the settlement requires that Ryland “obtain all required permits; develop site-specific pollution prevention plans for each construction site; conduct additional site inspections beyond those required by stormwater regulations; and document and promptly correct any problems detected.” The company must also “properly train construction managers and contractors on stormwater requirements and designate trained staff for each site.” In addition, Ryland must submit national compliance summary reports to the EPA.
The settlement covers 278 Ryland Group sites in 14 states. Florida tops the list with 57 sites and will be awarded $64,074 from the overall fine.
The EPA estimates that the settlement will lead to an annual 261 million pound reduction in sediment discharges in stormwater runoff from Ryland’s construction sites.
In addition to gathering sediment, runoff from construction sites can pick up other pollutants like debris, pesticides, petroleum products, chemicals, solvents, asphalts and acids — which, once they make their way into a waterbody, can cause widespread fish kills and impact the treatment of drinking water.