An out-of-court agreement has been reached between the Army Corps of Engineers and a Utah property owner in a case involving violations under the Clean Water Act.
Wesley Peltzer of Oakley, Summit County, has been ordered to pay $4,000 in civil penalties and restore a portion of Weber River bed disturbed by bulldozer and placement of car bodies in 1986.Section 404 of the Clean Water Act requires that anyone seeking to discharge dredged or fill material into waters of the United States or wetlands first apply for a Department of the Army permit.
In July 1986, a Corps representative discovered that seven car bodies and dredged material had been placed along an eroding bank below the ordinary high water mark of the Weber River on Peltzer's property near Oakley. Since no Department of the Army permit had been issued for this work, the Corps sent Peltzer a letter directing him to cease and desist from an additional discharge of dredged material into the river.
Although Peltzer later applied for an after-the-fact permit, his application was denied. He then hired a contractor to do more work in the stream with a bulldozer - a further violation of the act and in defiance of the cease and desist order. Meanwhile, the Corps had directed Peltzer to remove the car bodies from the river, which he failed to do.
In August 1987, the Corps informed him it was proceeding with legal action against him since it had been unable to get voluntary compliance with the law, and the case was turned over to the U.S. attorney.
That office filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court for Utah in October 1987 and a trial date was set for July 1988. Right before the trial date, the case was settled out of court.
The Corps has required permits under the Clean Water Act since 1975. While most people voluntarily comply with the law, according to Art Champ, chief of the Corps' Sacramento District regulatory section, violations can be punished by fines of up to $50,000 per day per violation or by imprisonment of up to one year or both.