Department of Ecology News Release - December 30, 2015

Developer fined for illegal pollution at Sumner construction sites along White River

SUMNER – A Pierce County developer faces a $34,000 fine after ignoring technical assistance and an administrative order to protect the water quality of the White River.

The Washington Department of Ecology issued the penalty to the Michelson Knapp Land Venture (Michelson Knapp) for failing to prevent polluted stormwater from reaching the White River following repeated violations found during inspections in 2015.

On four separate days in 2015, Ecology inspectors witnessed multiple violations of the company's Construction Stormwater General Permit. The permit regulates pollution, especially sediments, during construction projects and outlines expectations and best management practices for permit holders to keep waters of the state clean. Ecology has worked with Michelson Knapp to meet conditions of the permit since 2013, but to date Michelson Knapp has failed to implement the technical assistance.

Michelson Knapp's facility allowed muddy stormwater to leave untreated and directly pollute the White River, home to Puget Sound Chinook and steelhead, and other sensitive fish and wildlife. In several cases, the untreated stormwater also reached the city of Sumner's stormwater system, potentially requiring additional maintenance which can cause increased costs for ratepayers in the city.

"We expect construction firms to operate on a level playing field, investing and implementing the standard practices accepted by the industry as the best way to prevent pollution reaching our rivers and streams," said Rich Doenges, water quality section manager for Ecology's Southwest region. "Unfortunately, the developer ignored those practices and polluted the White River."

Michelson Knapp's construction sites are located at the Sumner Corporate Park Cascade and Glacier Building in Sumner. The penalty includes violations for the discharges as well as failing to meet the requirements of the stormwater permit. Michelson Knapp can appeal the penalty to the Pollution Control Hearings Board within 30 days.

"Michelson Knapp Land Ventures takes protection of the environment seriously and consistently implements effective water quality measures at all of its construction sites, including the Sumner Corporate Park Cascade site," Michelson Knapp said in a statement.


Chase Gallagher, communications, 360-407-6239, @ECYSW