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EPA raps Ivory Homes for storm-water pollution

Published June 24, 2014 9:33 pm

Environment • Agreement resolves alleged violations at construction sites.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah's largest home builder has agreed to a $250,000 fine and to take several steps to address a "pattern of failures" to comply with Clean Water Act requirements to control pollution associated with storm-water runoff from construction sites.

Ivory Homes' commitments will ensure that hundreds of thousands of pounds of sediment do not enter Utah's waterways, according to a Tuesday announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"The agreement resolves alleged storm-water permit violations discovered through inspections of Ivory Homes' construction sites in Utah," the EPA said in a news release. "The majority of these alleged violations involved the company's repeated failure to comply with permit requirements to install and maintain adequate storm-water pollution controls, conduct required inspections and prevent the discharge of construction materials to nearby surface waters."

In recent years, EPA has been cracking down on storm-water violations at residential construction sites. Runoff from such sites picks up sediments and chemicals and transports this pollution into waterways where it degrades aquatic habitat, sickens fish and ruins water quality.

Under a proposed consent decree filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, Ivory Homes Ltd. agreed to secure proper storm-water permits and meet the permits' provisions across its operations. This means developing site-specific pollution prevention plans and additional site inspections beyond those required by storm-water regulations and documenting and promptly correcting any problems. The company also agrees to train construction managers and contractors on storm-water requirements and to designate trained staff for each site.

The home builder neither admits nor denies the allegations contained in EPA's 16-page lawsuit, also filed Monday. This agreement, which resolves the dispute without any witness testimony or litigation, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and the approval of Magistrate Brooke Wells.

Ivory officials said they are pleased they resolved the matter in an amicable and mutually acceptable way.

"We are proud of our environmental record, particularly our storm-water compliance record. We are the first and the only home builder in Utah to implement a robust, companywide program to safeguard against sediment from entering Utah waters as a result of home-building activities," David Broadbent, Ivory's chief operating officer, said in an e-mail. The company, which has put up more than 10,000 Utah homes since 1990, also has led the way in sharing best practices with its competitors to improve storm-water protection across the state.

"We had storm-water control measures in place prior to being notified of the alleged violations," Broadbent added. "After we received notice, we made significant improvements and implemented an even more comprehensive program."

Broadbent said the 2008 inspections that led to the violation notices yielded no evidence that Ivory's "home-building practices resulted in any sediment discharge in any amount, let alone harm, to Utah waters."

Ivory Homes operated 110 construction sites in Utah in recent years, but the EPA complaint targets violations at just five in Utah and Salt Lake counties between 2008 and 2010. Because proper control measures were not implemented, polluted storm water may have reached Utah Lake and the Jordan River from these sites, the suit alleges. Since then Ivory Homes has implemented "significant improvements."

The offending construction sites were at Colony Point and Cranberry Farms in Lehi, Orchard Park in Lindon and Bellvue in Draper.

bmaffly@sltrib.com