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For immediate release – Wednesday, April 18, 2007.
Contact Bob Brammer – 515-281-6699 or rbrammer@ag.state.ia.us.

 

[UPDATE: This lawsuit was amended and re-filed June 12, 2007, changing the name of the defendant from “Bridges Bay Resort, LLC” to “BBR, L.L.C.”   Go to:  June 12, 2007, lawsuit vs. BBR, LLC.]

[UPDATE, May 2009: this lawsuit was resolved May 11, 2009, by a Dickinson County Court Order.  Go to:  May 12, 2009, AG news release.]

A.G. Alleges Water Pollution Violations by Bridges Bay Resort at East Lake Okoboji

Lawsuit alleges repeated illegal discharge of silt-laden wastewater into East Okoboji from resort construction site on the south shore of the Lake.


Spirit Lake, Iowa.  Attorney General Tom Miller filed an environmental enforcement lawsuit Wednesday alleging water pollution control violations and other violations by Bridges Bay Resort, a new vacation resort on the south shore of East Lake Okoboji in northwest Iowa. Bridges Bay has a hotel, water park, and condominium housing on about twenty acres of land.

The lawsuit alleges that during construction and development of the resort, Bridges Bay:

  • Illegally discharged sediment on repeated occasions into East Okoboji Lake and caused water quality violations. On one occasion, for example, the suit says Dept. of Natural Resources officials found sediment discharging “directly to the lake” after a rainfall and “observed a large cloud of chocolate-colored water in East Okoboji Lake in front of the development.”

  • Failed to comply with the terms of its permit for controlling storm-water discharges, and failed to implement its pollution prevention plan.

  • Illegally burned construction wastes at the site. Last June, DNR officials observed a large pile of construction wastes being burned, including lumber, drywall, insulation and plastic, according to the suit.

"East Okoboji is officially and fittingly designated a ‘high-quality water resource’ of the state,” Miller said. “We all must protect such precious resources.”

The suit was filed in Dickinson County District Court in Spirit Lake. It asks the Court to prohibit further violations and to assess civil penalties up to $5,000 per day per violation for the alleged water pollution violations and up to $10,000 per day for the alleged air quality violation.

Bridges Bay Resort, LLC, has a principal place of business at 3211 West Sencore Drive, Sioux Falls, SD 57107.

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More background and details:

The lawsuit alleges water pollution control violations of Iowa law that prohibits discharge of a pollutant -- including sediment run-off from a construction site -- into any state-owned lake. Violations are punishable by a civil penalty up to $5,000 per day per violation.

The lawsuit also alleges violation of storm water discharge regulations, punishable by a civil penalty of up to $5,000 per day per violation. Bridges Bay held a required DNR-issued permit regulating storm water discharges from a construction activity site. Such permits contain numerous terms, such as: The activities must not contribute to violation of a water-quality standard, a storm water pollution prevention plan must be developed and implemented for the site, the plan must be retained at the site, the plan must be amended as needed to control pollutants and discharge, sediment-collection basins must be constructed if required, and sites that have not been stabilized must be inspected frequently.

The lawsuit also alleges violation of air quality regulations that prohibit open burning of materials, punishable by a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per day per violation.

The suit alleged numerous incidents of violations based on DNR inspections, including:

  • On June 7, 2005, the Iowa DNR received notice from Bridges Bay that it would operate under the storm water discharge permit framework, and that a Pollution Prevention Plan had been developed. On June 14, 2005, Bridges Bay was authorized by the DNR to begin construction pursuant to a Storm Water General Permit No. 2.

  • On October 4, 2005, DNR officials conducted a storm water compliance inspection at the site and noted that the Pollution Plan “required that Geomatting be installed along the steep lakeshore bank and that perimeter silt fencing be installed along the lake side of the development. The Geomatting had not been installed.” DNR officials advised Bridges Bay “that site de-watering must not be directly discharged into East Okoboji Lake without passing through a control measure,” the suit said.

  • On October 12, 2005, in response to a complaint that Bridges Bay was pumping dirty water into the Lake, “DNR officials investigated the site that day and observed water being pumped out of a pit. Piping from the pit ran across a temporary road and then into a ravine that emptied into the lake. DNR officials found sediment from the ravine discharging into the lake, and a large brown plume in the lake in the vicinity of the discharge. Bridges Bay was directed to immediately stop the discharge.”

  • On April 14, 2006, DNR officials conducted a storm water compliance inspection at the site. They “observed that a channel had been dug in the center of the site leading directly to East Okoboji Lake. There were no control measures installed to protect the channel. Geomatting had not been installed along the lakeshore bank as required by the pollution prevention plan. In addition, perimeter silt fencing along the lake side of the development had been knocked down or filled with sediment and was no longer effective.”

  • On May 5, 2006, “DNR officials returned to the site to determine whether deficiencies which they had observed had been corrected by Bridges Bay. . . No protective measures had been installed along the open channel in the center of the project. Several silt fences were still not properly installed,” the suit said.

  • On June 13, 2006, DNR officials observed, “The open channel in the center of the site was not protected by any control measures. Nearly all of the lakeside silt fencing had been knocked down.” DNR officials also observed “a large pile of construction wastes including lumber, drywall, insulation, and plastic being burned” at the site.

  • On June 20, 2006, “DNR officials conducted a storm water compliance inspection at the Bridges Bay site after a recent rainfall and observed a large cloud of chocolate-colored water in East Okoboji Lake in front of the development. Sediment was discharging directly to the Lake from a tube connected to a tile line. . . The open channel in the center of the site was not protected by any control measures. Virtually all of the lakeside fencing was still knocked down,” the suit said.

  • On July 13, 2006, DNR officials returned to the site. “While the open channel in the center of the project had been tiled to prevent silt from directly entering the lake, silt fencing which had previously been knocked down was still not repaired, and other areas of silt fencing were not properly installed . . .”

  • On September 14, 2006, DNR officials “again observed areas where silt fencing had been knocked down.”

  • On September 22, 2006, DNR officials returned to the site after a recent rainfall and “observed that water in the open channel in the center of the site was a brown color. They also noted that water in the lake at the point where the channel converged with the lake was also a dirty, brown color. . . . Following the open channel upstream, DNR officials observed runoff from exposed areas running underneath silt fences which had not been properly installed and entering the open channel and then flowing to East Okoboji Lake,” according to the lawsuit.

[END]


 

On the Web: www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.org.