St. Maries Lumber Company Fined $225,000 for Clean Water Act Violations

cleaning the pond from floating debris and sewage

The company will place a 100-year, no-timber-harvest stream buffer of 75ft. along more than 17,800 ft. of shoreline for five streams on its property. (Credit: Canva)

by | May 21, 2024

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The EPA has taken action against PotlatchDeltic Land & Lumber, LLC, based in St. Maries, Idaho, for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act. The company will pay a fine of $225,000 as part of the settlement.

Background

PotlatchDeltic operates within the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s reservation and discharges into a section of the St. Joe River, which falls under Tribal waters. The St. Joe River is a critical habitat for bull trout, and its waters flow into Lake Coeur d’Alene. Under the Clean Water Act, PotlatchDeltic is required to comply with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits.

Violations and Remedies

In March 2017, the EPA conducted an inspection to evaluate PotlatchDeltic’s compliance with its permits. The inspection revealed several stormwater violations:

  • Failure to Implement Corrective Actions: PotlatchDeltic did not promptly address benchmark exceedances or take necessary corrective actions.
  • Inadequate Stormwater Pollution Prevention Controls: The company’s stormwater pollution prevention plan controls were insufficient.

Stormwater runoff from lumber facilities containing pollutants like zinc significantly threatens rivers, lakes, and coastal waters when not adequately treated and discharged. To address these violations, PotlatchDeltic has agreed to the following remedies:

  • Facility Improvements: The company will invest in facility upgrades to ensure compliance with Clean Water Act permits.
  • New Filtration System: PotlatchDeltic will construct a state-of-the-art filtration system to manage stormwater effectively.
  • Combining Outfalls: The company will consolidate its outfalls to prevent pollution.

Habitat Protection and Enhancement

In addition to the fines and remedies, PotlatchDeltic has committed to two mitigation actions aimed at protecting and enhancing habitat for trout and salmon:

  • Conservation Easement: The company will place a 100-year, no-timber-harvest stream buffer of 75ft. along more than 17,800 ft. of shoreline for five streams on its property. This measure will safeguard approximately 61.25 acres.
  • Road Culvert Replacement: PotlatchDeltic will replace four road culverts on its property, which currently block fish passage and limit access to spawning habitat.

EPA’s Perspective

Ed Kowalski, Director of the EPA Region 10 Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, emphasized the importance of stormwater pollution controls: “Industrial facilities must have effective controls to protect our waters. We are pleased that PotlatchDeltic took swift action to improve its operations and prevent pollution. These actions will ultimately contribute to better water quality in the Pacific Northwest.”

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