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Magnolia Clean Water Act Settlement Information Sheet

Overview of Company

Magnolia Valley Planation, LLC, Magnolia Hills, LLC, and Magnolia Valley, LLC own a 50-acre development site located in Evans, Georgia. The Magnolia site addressed by the complaint and lodged consent decree is a residential construction site that is an expansion of an existing residential area.

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The consent decree settles alleged violations of terms and conditions of Magnolia’s Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 402 (33 U.S.C. § 1342) Georgia Construction Permit, as well as alleged violations of Section 301 of the CWA, 33 U.S.C. § 1311, for discharge without a permit issued pursuant to Section 404, 33 U.S.C. § 1344.

Magnolia’s alleged 402 permit violations include: discharge of sediment; failure to properly design and implement a stormwater pollution prevention plan; failure to amend the plan as necessary; failure to properly design, implement, and maintain adequate best management practices (BMPs); failure to document and submit reports for BMP failures that resulted in sediment depositions; failure to conduct required inspections; failure to timely inspect the installation of BMPs; and failure to take all reasonable steps to minimize or prevent discharges likely to have adverse effects to human health and the environment.

Magnolia’s alleged 301 permit violations include discharging fill material into jurisdictional waters of the United States, including wetlands, without a 404 permit. The discharge occurred during construction activities using earth moving machinery to prepare land for residential development.

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Injunctive Relief

The 402 stormwater permit relief sought by the consent decree will ensure compliance with the CWA and the permit at future sites. These activities include: maintaining adequate stormwater pollution prevention plans; updating those plans as necessary; implementing required BMPs and reporting any BMP failures; designating a stormwater compliance manager; conducting compliance inspections at future sites; retaining an independent third party verifier who will conduct comprehensive verification of Magnolia’s compliance requirements at future sites; and reporting requirements.

Magnolia is unable to restore the destroyed wetlands and intermittent headwater tributaries or return them to their pre-disturbed conditions because there are now occupied homes on the site, the settlement requires Magnolia to offset the lost ecological functions caused by the unauthorized discharges by purchasing $60,000 in mitigation credits. The credits will be purchased from a mitigation bank approved by the Army Corps in the primary service area of the Magnolia site.  

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Pollutant Impacts

Sediment-laden runoff can cause loss of in-stream habitats for fish and other aquatic life, increased difficulty in filtering drinking water, the loss of drinking water reservoir storage capacity, and a negative impact on the navigational capacity of waterways. Sediment in a receiving stream can also cause detriment to the environment by limiting the amount of sunlight to the stream and the aquatic life, inhibiting the growth of natural plants and wildlife. Dredge and fill material can also impact the health of aquatic life and the overall health of affected waters.

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Health and Environmental Effects

Approximately 7,324 linear feet of an unnamed stream was impacted by sediment deposition from within the Magnolia site to the junction where the stream enters Uchee Creek, and then into Uchee Creek. Sediment discharged from the site filled the channel of the tributary as well as the floodplain in many areas. This sediment deposition varied from twenty feet to fifty feet wide, and from one foot to six feet deep. 

Magnolia also buried several intermittent headwater tributaries and a small wetland, and the unauthorized fill activity impacted approximately 0.53 acres of wetlands and 935 linear feet of tributaries that eventually flow to the Savannah River 12 miles away.

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Civil Penalty

The consent decree requires Magnolia to pay a civil penalty of $45,000 within 30 days of entry of the consent decree in federal court.

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. Information on submitting comment is available at the Department of Justice website.  

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Contact Information

Kristin Buterbaugh, Attorney-Adviser
Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-4479

Michele Wetherington, Associate Regional Counsel
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4
61 Forsyth Street S.W.
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 562-9613

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