In our last post, we spoke about criticisms that are being leveled against the new lineup of the formerly independent but now government backed Soil and Water Conservation Commission. One of the points we noted, in speaking of the heavy representation from industry on the new commission lineup, is that businesses, environmentalists and private citizens often have competing interests when it comes to soil and water quality, and environmental issues in general. The concern with a largely pro-business representation in the organization that helps set soil and water policy is rooted in this concern.
One of the important points to talk about here is enforcement of soil and water law. What happens when a party conducting land disturbing activities which impact soil and water quality violate Georgia’s Erosion and Sedimentation Act?
What happens, for instance, when a real estate developer fails to take the proper steps to minimize erosion, makes excessive or careless use of cut-and-fill operations, recklessly strips away erosion preventing vegetation, or violates a standard laid out in the Manual for Erosion and Sedimentation Control in Georgia or the requirements set forth in a local ordinance?
There are a couple things that can happen when there is a violation of water and soil law. One possibility is that the authority that issued the offending party’s project permit can pursue an enforcement action. The authority could be the Environmental Protection Division, the county or the city. Enforcement actions can involve penalties for the offending party and other appropriate sanctions.
Another possibility is that a private party who is damaged by the violation of soil and water law may pursue civil litigation for damages. In our next post, we’ll take a look at this topic.