Last week in an Idaho federal court, an Arizona man was criminally charged and sentenced to six months of home detention and three years of probation for violating the Clean Water Act for unlawful dredge and fill work along an Idaho river.
The campground owner’s property has a spring-fed tributary to the Salmon River where he unlawfully dumped materials and carved out the riverbed, destroying a salmon-breeding area.
The man pleaded guilty to a felony for discharging dredge and fill material below the ordinary high water mark, which violated a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Clean Water Act.
The U.S. Army Corps permit allowed the man to dump dirt material in a small and specific area along the banks of the tributary between a period when the Salmon River is low.
The man violated the permit by ordered the dumping of more than 400 linear feet of perforated irrigation pipe and then ordering the dumping of more than 300 cubic yards of topsoil to cover the piping—all while the river was at a high level.
In addition, the man later ordered the removal of dirt and rock from the tributary and had it placed along the bank of the river in a low-lying wetland.
The man’s criminal actions seriously endangered the salmons’ mating and growing environment. In addition to home detention and probation, he was ordered to pay a $30,000 fine and remove the dumped material to give the salmon a chance at survival.
This case is an example of state courts increasingly enforcing environmental regulations and handing out strict penalties for violations.