On August 3, 2023, the EPA announced Robert Yundt Homes, LLC, and Robert Yundt, a homebuilder based in Alaska, were assessed fines of $107,000 for alleged Clean Water Act (CWA) violations as part of a proposed consent decree.
“From 2019 through 2021, Robert Yundt Homes, LLC and Mr. Yundt are accused of using heavy earthmoving equipment to relocate and discharge material into Wasilla Lake and Cottonwood Lake, resulting in environmental impacts along the shorelines and adjacent wetlands,” an Agency news release says. “In response, EPA issued multiple administrative compliance orders on consent requiring Robert Yundt Homes, LLC to perform certain restoration and mitigation activities to remedy the harms to the environment. Robert Yundt Homes, LLC also agreed to pay $29,500 in penalties.”
Specific alleged violations, according to the consent decree, include:
- Discharging fill material on two specific occasions into waters of the United States (WOTUS) at two sites in Wasilla, Alaska, without obtaining a discharge permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps);
- Violation of CWA Section 301 (a) at Wasilla Lake by using heavy earthmoving equipment to relocate and discharge fill material, such as rip rap rock, gravel, and topsoil, into wetlands adjacent to Wasilla Lake and below the ordinary high-water mark of Wasilla Lake; and
- Violation of CWA Section 301 (a) at the builder’s Cottonwood Lake Sites by using heavy earthmoving equipment to relocate and discharge gravel, native organic soil, woody debris, slash, and logs into wetlands adjacent to Cottonwood Lake.
The consent decree states the administrative orders required the submission of two Restoration Work Plans to restore the site and, after obtaining EPA approval, to finish implementing the Restoration Work Plans. The decree further alleges the homebuilder failed to complete “the required restoration and mitigation work agreed to and ordered by the Wasilla Lake Order and Cottonwood Lake Order.”
“After Robert Yundt Homes, LLC failed to comply with the administrative compliance orders on consent, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska against Robert Yundt Homes, LLC and Mr. Yundt,” according to the EPA news release. “To resolve the violations of the administrative compliance orders and the underlying [CWA] violations, Robert Yundt Homes, LLC, Mr. Yundt, EPA, and the U.S. Department of Justice have agreed to a Consent Decree that requires the Defendants to conduct fill removal and habitat restoration activities along the shoreline of Wasilla Lake, restore and preserve wetlands adjacent to Cottonwood Lake in perpetuity through an environmental covenant, and pay an additional $77,500 in penalties.” “In order to protect human health and the environment it is absolutely vital that building and construction companies obtain the appropriate permits and comply with EPA administrative orders,” said EPA Region 10 Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Director Ed Kowalski in the news release. “As this case demonstrates, the secondary and tertiary effects of unauthorized discharges associated with construction activities can be felt by the entire community.”