WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Department of Justice announced Aug. 15 that John Duarte and Duarte Nursery Inc. will pay $1.1 million in civil penalties and mitigation to resolve allegations of violating the Clean Water Act on property in Tehama County, California.
“[This] agreement affirms the Department of Justice's commitment to the rule of law, results in meaningful environmental restoration, and brings to an end protracted litigation,” said Jeffrey H. Wood, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resource Division. “We are pleased to reach this agreement that serves the public interest in enforcement of the Clean Water Act and deterrence of future violations.”
According to allegations, Duarte purchased a property in 2012 and a short time later sold most of it, although he retained 450 acres of land for personal use. Ten percent of this area had federally protected streams and wetland. Duarte allegedly conducted illegal “ripping” on the property and he failed to first receive a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.
“The corps is pleased that this longstanding enforcement action has finally been resolved,” said Michael Jewell, chief of the regulatory division for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Sacramento District. “We encourage members of the public to contact the corps prior to engaging in activities that are regulated under the Clean Water Act. The corps is always willing to talk to the public about the regulatory program and to provide information on permit requirements, jurisdictional determinations, wetland delineations, and any other aspects of the program.”