On Dec. 10, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection filed a settlement with James C. Justice II, the James C. Justice Companies, Inc. and High Mountain Living LLC resolving violations of state and federal environmental laws designed to protect the health of wetlands and waterways. Last week’s settlement will restore and preserve the health and water quality of Turkey Creek, and its tributary, where 20 unauthorized dams were constructed. These water bodies are located two miles from Gap Mills in Monroe Co.
In addition to restoring and preserving the areas affected by the dams, Mr. Justice and the Justice Companies will pay a $220,000 civil penalty. High Mountain Living LLC settled with EPA for the same Clean Water Act violations and will pay a $125,000 civil penalty. As a co-plaintiff, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection will receive half of these penalties.
The settlement resolves unauthorized discharges associated with construction of earthen, cement and stone dams for 1.5 miles of Turkey Creek on Justice’s property. Turkey Creek is a natural trout stream. These dams reduced water quality, changed water flow, reshaped the stream, disrupted fish passage and caused sediment build up.
A Clean Water Act permit is required for activities that involve the discharge of dredged or fill material into wetlands and other waterways. The permits are required so the environmental, recreational, and economic functions of the water bodies are protected – including flood control, water filtration, and wildlife habitat.
For more information about Clean Water Act protection of wetlands and waterways, visit http://www.epa.gowowow/wetlands/.