A California-based home builder is accused of polluting Charlotte’s creeks and sewer system.
The Environmental Protection Agency is suing Ryland Homes and accusing them of either breaking or ignoring rules while building homes in Charlotte and across the country.
The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court, claims inspections by the EPA beginning in 2003 discovered a pattern of failures by Ryland Homes to prevent runoff from its construction sites.
Rusty Rozzelle with the Mecklenburg County Storm Water Services said the consequences are serious. “Runoff from construction sites can pollute the water and polluted water is bad for everybody,” he said.
The lawsuit accuses the builder of allowing rock, sand, cellar dirt, industrial waste and other pollutants to discharge into streams and creeks.
That runoff is exactly what federal, state and local regulations are designed to avoid because streams flow into sources for drinking water.
“It carries with it a lot different contaminants, bacteria and metals,” Rozelle said.
Channel 9 saw silt fences and runoff retention ditches in place at a Ryland Homes development on Monday.
But the EPA said the company failed to comply with environmental regulations in dozens of other neighborhoods built in the Charlotte area and in more than 250 subdivisions in 13 states across the country.
The Sierra Club’s Bill Gupton called it an eye-popping threat to our drinking water. “It represents not just a single mistake at a particular site, but a consistent pattern of not following regulations,” he said.
Channel 9 spoke to a Ryland Homes representative who insists it now has plans in place to avoid construction runoff. The spokesman also said the company has agreed to a pay a total of $625,000 in fines to settle the case.