Water Management District to Fine Aberdeen Developer; Consent Order in Works to Penalize Company for Allowing Discharge into Cunningham Creek

Article excerpt

Byline: terry brown

Following six documented instances of allowing silt-laden, milky white water to spill into Cunningham Creek during the past six weeks, the St. Johns River Water Management District is in the process of sending a consent order to the developers of of the mega-project Aberdeen.

The developer and its engineering firm, England Thims & Miller, were notified of the impending penalty this week. They have been aware of the violations and the impending penalty did not come as a surprise, according to Robin Harrell of the Water Management District. Harrell said the penalty was under lawyer review and should be delivered to the developer on Monday. He would not disclose the amount of the penalty under consideration.

"The penalty can be up to $10,000 per day per violation, and I've tried to put it on the upper end of the scale," Harrell said. "Nobody wants a penalty, but after this many violations it was time to take action."

The 2,018-home development is under construction near the headwaters of the creek and has been under scrutiny from environmental scientists after contractors were found to be illegally pumping and bulldozing construction soils into the waterway, thereby deteriorating the water quality.

Scott Wild, a spokesman for England Thims & Miller, said he is aware of the pending consent order, but he would not speculate on the amount of the fines. He explained they have been working with the site contractors and the more than 1,000 workers to clean up the problems, and the past few weeks had been incident free. Harrell also confirmed the waterway has been more clear the during the past week.

Wild also said the developer was taking more extreme measures to help ensure further problems don't occur.

"The developer has retained Ellis & Associates full-time to ensure surface water compliance at the site," Wild said. …