Kansas Department of Transportation Clean Water Settlement
(Washington, DC - July 1, 2013) The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) is the state agency that conducts the building, expansion, modernization and maintenance of public roads in the State of Kansas. Between 2011 and 2020, KDOT will spend an estimated $6 billion on state highway projects and $1.6 billion on local roads. KDOT also maintains bridges and administers programs for public transit, railroads and airports.
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Overview of Company and Location of Sites
The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) is the state agency that conducts the building, expansion, modernization and maintenance of public roads in the State of Kansas. Between 2011 and 2020, KDOT will spend an estimated $6 billion on state highway projects and $1.6 billion on local roads. KDOT also maintains bridges and administers programs for public transit, railroads and airports.
EPA identified violations of stormwater requirements at four KDOT highway construction projects:
- U.S Highway 69 expansion, Project 91, near Pleasanton, Kansas
- U.S. Highway 69 expansion, Project 92, near Pleasanton, Kansas
- U.S. Highway 59 expansion south of Lawrence, Kansas
- Kansas Highway 18 construction project near Manhattan, Kansas
KDOT failed to comply with the conditions in the stormwater construction general permit issued by the state of Kansas pursuant to CWA Section 402, U.S.C. § 1342, resulting in the discharge of pollutants in stormwater from construction sites, which is a violation of CWA Section 301. Permit violations included the failure to install or implement adequate stormwater control measures, including the failure to timely stabilize disturbed soils, the failure to properly maintain stormwater controls, the failure to develop an adequate stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) and update the SWPPP as appropriate, and the failure to maintain the SWPPP and other records at the construction site. Missing stormwater control measures included stormwater controls at stream crossings (e.g., bridge crossings and culverts), silt fences, rock check dams, storm drain inlet protection, and slope protection in parts of the site. Numerous stormwater controls that were installed were installed incorrectly or not properly maintained.
The Consent Decree requires KDOT to implement a compliance program that will ensure adequate management and oversight of construction sites and compliance with the Kansas construction stormwater general permit. The compliance program includes:
- Designation of a KDOT stormwater compliance manager who will oversee the compliance program statewide
- Designation of trained and qualified site-level stormwater compliance managers and inspectors for each construction site who will be responsible for compliance at that site
- A requirement to conduct and document a pre-construction inspection and meeting at every site prior to commencing construction activity
- Requirements for routine site inspections including the use of standardized forms approved by EPA which require KDOT to document completion of all action items taken to achieve or maintain compliance at a site
- A requirement for additional independent oversight inspections every 60 days at projects located in environmentally sensitive areas
- A requirement to train all KDOT employees who are stormwater compliance managers or inspectors
- A requirement that KDOT’s general contractors must identify a stormwater compliance manager for each project who shall be adequately trained and who will be responsible for ensuring compliance by the contractor and its subcontractors
- A requirement to submit national compliance summary reports to EPA
As a result of this settlement, EPA estimates that the sediment discharged in stormwater runoff will be reduced by as much as 48 million pounds from KDOT construction sites over the first year.
Health and Environmental Effects
Discharges of stormwater runoff, including runoff from construction sites, can have a significant impact on water quality. Construction activities alter natural landscapes. During construction, earth is compacted, excavated and displaced, and vegetation is removed. These activities increase runoff and erosion, thus increasing sediment transported to receiving waters. In addition to sediment, as stormwater flows over a construction site, it can pick up other pollutants such as debris, pesticides, petroleum products, chemicals, solvents, asphalts and acids that may also contribute to water quality problems.
Sediment-laden runoff can result in increased turbidity and decreased oxygen in receiving waters, which in turn results in loss of in-stream habitat for fish and other aquatic species.
Sediment can kill fish directly, destroy spawning beds, suffocate fish eggs and bottom dwelling organisms, and block sunlight resulting in reduced growth of beneficial aquatic grasses. In addition, sediment can impact the treatment of drinking water resulting in higher treatment costs, and can result in the loss of drinking water reservoir storage capacity and decrease the navigational capacity of waterways.
As part of the settlement, KDOT has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $477,500.
The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, is subject to a 30-day comment period and final court approval. Information on submitting comments is available at the Department of Justice website.
For More Information, Contact:
Susan D. Bruce
Water Enforcement Division
Office of Civil Enforcement, US EPA
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460