One Year Later, Henrico County Virginia to Settle with EPA for Clean Water Act Violation

One year after receiving an administrative complaint from the Environmental Protection Agency, Henrico County Supervisors have settled upon an agreement that will reduce the original $164,300 penalty levied by EPA for stormwater violations.

In the spring of 2010, EPA conducted an audit of Henrico’s records. Based on this audit, EPA issued an administrative complaint in April 2011 seeking civil penalties amounting to $164,300 for alleged non-compliance with permit conditions. Henrico’s  penalty is not far from the $177,500 maximum administrative penalty that the EPA can levy without going to federal court. Benjamin A. Thorp, an assistant county attorney for Henrico, said the penalties levied in Virginia are “part of a big push by the EPA to address stormwater runoff.”

Henrico is not the first Virginia locality to have been sanctioned by EPA enforcement for stormwater violations. Another Richmond area municipality, Chesterfield County was issued a $131,000 penalty for stormwater pollution. (Chesterfield and the EPA negotiated a final settlement in December for $77,866.)

The County has contested some portions of the complaint. “In our view, some of the penalty is based on mistakes, on trivial matters and on analysis that is not fair,” Thorp said. The county was also cited for problems that fall under state authority. “We weren’t without fault,” Thorp said. “We, of course, want to do better. But we’d rather use the money from the penalty to apply to better practices.”

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