Stormwater permits are designed to control run-off of deleterious materials and improve the environment. Some developers are discovering that the failure to comply with such a permit can also bring far worse consequences: huge penalties.

Stormwater permits generally include a number of mandatory conditions, such as creating a stormwater pollution prevention plan, following best management practices, performing periodic inspections and documenting the inspection results. Unfortunately, a number of developers allegedly failed to create a plan or perform the required inspections, according to complaints filed by the USEPA in federal court. In most instances, the USEPA resolved the compliance issues with the developer, but not until it received hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties – or more. But enforcement is not limited to large developers.

More recently, a news report indicated that stormwater compliance has been enforced against a commercial retail complex, which was cited for over $50,000 in penalties for violating the federal Clean Water Act for over 1,100 days. As a consequence of the increased enforcement activity, large and small developers need to ensure that they read the conditions in their stormwater permit and implement a program designed to maintain stormwater controls and conduct the required inspections. Failure to do so can easily lead to significant penalties.