Beazer Homes USA is the most recent production builder to settle with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over allegations that the company violated stormwater discharge rules across the country.
The Atlanta-based company has agreed to pay a $925,000 penalty and implement a compliance program to ensure adequate management and oversight of construction sites as well as permitting to make sure it complies with federal regulations. EPA set the value of those compliance requirements at $9,487,384.
The EPA's lawsuit against Beazer alleges Clean Water Act violations at 362 sites in 21 states. The violations alleged by the EPA include discharge of pollutants in stormwater without a permit, failure to provide information in the form of permit applications to the EPA, and failure to comply with the conditions of permits issued by failing to design, implement, and maintain adequate best management practices at construction sites.
Since the charges, Beazer has already put in place systems to ensure it is in compliance with federal Clean Water Act requirements.
"The company takes environmental compliance issues seriously and prides itself in maintaining good standing with federal, state, and local environmental regulators," it said in announcing the settlement.
Beazer isn't the only builder caught in the EPA crackdown. In the last several years, the EPA and the Department of Justice have reached consent decrees with nine residential construction companies for stormwater violations, resulting in approximately $6.3 million in penalties, according to the EPA.
And it's likely more settlements will follow since there are still other builders charged with Clean Water Act violations who haven't struck agreements yet.
Complying with federal and state regulations related to runoff from construction sites is likely to become even more difficult in the future. Environmental groups have been fighting to regulate runoff from construction sites the way it regulates runoff from factories, creating stricter standards that would put specific limits on how much sediment could be in the runoff, which in some cases would require sites to be scrubbed of sediments, said Calli Barker Schmidt, an NAHB spokeswoman.
Some of the proposals are arduous and would be costly because it would require someone to be on site when it rains to manage the runoff. The NAHB has been fighting against some of the regulations, arguing, among other things, that adding polymers to the effluent to bind the sediments in the runoff could create other environmental problems on their own.