We began speaking last time about enforcement of Georgia’s Erosion and Sedimentation Act. We’ve already mentioned that one possible avenue is enforcement action by the Environmental Protection Division or other appropriate authority. The other possibility is for a private party to initiate a tort action against an offending party.
The type of tort initiated in an action under the Erosion and Sedimentation Act depends on the type of harm that occurred. This could involve a claim of trespass, negligence, nuisance, or infringement of riparian rights. Nuisance refers to situations where a property owner is conducting or allowing activities that result in an increase in the volume, velocity or turbidity of the water for the plaintiff. Trespass involves situations where water and/or sediment is spilled onto other properties as a result of land disturbing activities.
A claim for negligence can be pursued when there is evidence that the offending party did not properly carry out best management practices as laid out in the Green Book. Another possibility is an inverse condemnation claim, which can occur when the government discharges water or sediment in such a way that it interferes with property rights. Riparian rights claims involve situations where a property owner’s use of water is interfered with because of the actions of the offending party.
Working with an experienced attorney is important when pursuing a civil claim under the Erosion and Sedimentation Act. An experienced attorney will not only have a command of the law involved in these claims and the process of navigating the court system, but also how to effectively advocate for the interests of those who are harmed by violations.