EPA fines Minden developer thousands again
RENO – A Nevada developer that was fined $76,800 for violating the Clean Water Act with polluted storm water at a housing subdivision near Gardnerville in 2005 has been fined another $43,000 for violating the Safe Drinking Water Act.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the latest fine against PTP Inc. of Minden this week for violating a permit at the 240-home Pineview Estates by failing to protect underground aquifers that are potential drinking-water sources.
EPA officials said they inspected the development six miles south of Gardnerville several times between 2003 and 2007, and discovered wastewater effluent surfacing in the drain field and other conditions in violation of PTP’s permit.
The collection of minimally treated human wastewater collecting on the surface of the field posed a threat to public health when it was discovered, but the developer has largely corrected the problem, EPA officials said Thursday.
“The EPA’s permit for this development was designed to protect underground sources of drinking water and public health within the community,” Alexis Strauss, Water Division director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region in San Francisco, said in a statement this week.
“PTP must comply with all permit terms and conditions to ensure the protection of water resources in this area,” she said.
The developer was fined $76,800 in 2005 for allowing polluted storm water to drain off the same housing subdivision and into the East Fork of the Carson River. EPA inspectors determined at that time that PTP had been discharging polluted storm water into the nearby river without a permit since 1999.
Strauss said PTP is working closely with the EPA to come into compliance with all permit requirements. The 63-acre site now is in its final phase of development.
David Albright, manager of the EPA’s regional groundwater office, said the drain fields targeted in the latest fine are part of an on-site wastewater-treatment system typically used in rural areas where there is no formal wastewater-treatment facility.
They are used by piping wastewater into a field where it filters down through the soil and other materials, so it is largely treated before it reaches an aquifer, he said.
“The effluent coming out of the pipe that was supposed to drain down through the soil was ponding on the surface,” Albright said.
“It’s basically minimally treated human wastewater, so it could have pathogens in it. We’d be concerned about people walking in it, pets getting into it and tracking it back into homes,” he told The Associated Press.
“As a public-health matter, it is an indication the system is not working adequately.”
At this point, PTP has “pretty much come into compliance,” Albright said.
“They are working closely with us and have made the changes to the system we asked them to. We are pretty much at the end of the process,” he said.
The Associated Press was unable to reach PTP officials for comment Thursday.
Justin Clouser, who the EPA identified as a lawyer representing the company, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.
There is no telephone listing for the company in Minden or Gardnerville. There was no answer at a telephone listing for Pineview Estates.