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St. Maries company penalized $225K for alleged Clean Water Act violations along St. Joe River

| May 17, 2024 3:15 PM

A St. Maries company was fined $225,000 for alleged violation of the Clean Water Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Friday.

“Industrial facilities must have stormwater pollution controls in place to protect our waters,” said EPA Region 10 Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Director Ed Kowalski in a press release.

PotlatchDeltic Land & Lumber, LLC sits within the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s reservation and discharges into a section of the St. Joe River that is tribal waters. The St. Joe River flows into Lake Coeur d’Alene and is critical habitat for bull trout. Under the Clean Water Act, PotlatchDeltic is required to comply with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits, the release said.

EPA conducted an inspection in March 2017 to evaluate PotlatchDeltic’s compliance with its permits and found PotlatchDeltic had numerous stormwater violations, such as failure to implement corrective actions following continued benchmark exceedances and failure to implement adequate stormwater pollution prevention plan controls, according to the release.

Stormwater runoff from lumber facilities containing zinc and other pollutants, when not treated and discharged directly into nearby waterbodies, can cause significant harm to rivers, lakes and coastal waters, the release said.

PotlatchDeltic agreed to extensive remedies to come into and remain in compliance with its Clean Water Act permits, including facility improvements and construction of a new filtration system. 

PotlatchDeltic also agreed to perform two mitigation actions designed to protect and enhance habitat for trout and salmon in Hangman Creek on its property and within the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s reservation.

Specifically, PotlatchDeltic will place a conservation easement on its property that will provide 100-year, no timber harvest stream buffers of 75 feet along more than 17,800 feet of shoreline for five streams, protecting about 61.25 acres, the release said. 

PotlatchDeltic also agreed to replace four road culverts on its property that are blocking fish passage and limiting access to spawning habitat.  

 “We are pleased the company took swift action to improve their operations," Kowalski said.