In our previous post, we spoke about the legal issues surrounding an ongoing Department of Transportation project in Augusta and Columbia County. As we noted, some have filed lawsuits under the Clean Water Act in connection with the problems, and it is possible that there may be litigation under the Georgia Erosion and Sedimentation Act.
The purpose of the Georgia Erosion and Sedimentation Act, passed in 1975, was to create a comprehensive program to control soil erosion and to protect vulnerable environmental resources disturbed by excavation, dredging and other activities that disturb the integrity of land. The law works in concert with the Clean Water Act and other state programs aimed an erosion and sedimentation control. Local governments are able to adopt standards for erosion and sedimentation control and thus become “local issuing authorities,” though the law is overseen by other agencies as well. The primary agency responsible for enforcing the law is the Department of Natural Resources.
Local issuing authorities may enforce their standards by a variety of means, including fines, stop work orders, revocation of business licenses, suspending permits or denying future permit applications for a period of time, or by forfeiture of bonding.
Businesses and land developers can and should be aware of the Georgia Erosion and Sedimentation Act and how to maintain compliance with the law. Doing so ensures that any legal concerns related to erosion issues are proactively addressed so as to avoid liability and keep business operations running as smoothly as possible. Property owners who are being impacted by erosion issues caused by land disturbing activity can also benefit from consulting with an experienced environmental attorney to make sure their rights are protected.