The third installment in the OELC’s report on the State of Clean Water Act Violations in Ohio
(Posted by Trent A. Dougherty, Director of Legal Affairs, Ohio Environmental Council, Director of the Ohio Environmental Law Center)
A few weeks back, in our first two installments on the state of Ohio’s Clean Water Act enforcement, OELC shined its light on the Five Biggest discharge limit violators as well as the concern over Ohio schools and their contribution to water pollution. Another group of Clean Water Act violators in Ohio are Mobile Home Parks.
These Mobile Home Parks have been a thorn in the side of water quality regulators (and water quality for that matter) for decades. I have talked with attorneys who were on the very first Ohio EPA staff in the early 1970’s, and retired Assistant Attorneys General from the Environmental Enforcement Section, and they tell me the same thing, sewage discharges from trailer parks are constantly a problem. In many cases, they say, the biggest culprits are those parks that are operated by out of state corporations that own multiple facilities throughout the country. The feeling is, from these conglomerate owned parks, as long as the sign is lit and the grass is mowed, the wastewater system takes a backseat. The result? Effluent exceedences of Fecal Coliform, Nitrogen, and Total Suspended Solids of hundreds of times beyond the acceptable limits.
While definitely not the situation with every mobile home park, the number of violations, and recalcitrant violators make them a necessary target for compliance monitoring. These parks thus account for a great share of the workload for Environmental Enforcement Section and in-house Ohio EPA lawyers. Earlier this year, the AG’s office entered into a Consent Decree with Knollwood Mobile Home Park in Athens County, for a civil penalty of $100,000 from a Clean Water Act enforcement action. In 2010, the Agency enforced violations through Director’s Findings and Orders against Chateau Estates Mobile Home Park (Springfield), and Hockingport MHP (Hockingport); and the AG’s Office secured judgment in Lake County against Sands Trailer Park & Sales Inc. , and a Consent Order in Stark County in a case against Hillview MHP.
What to do? What to do? – As a consistent water quality problem, the regulators must make these operations a priority. Ohio EPA enforcement staff must continue to assist the operators to reach and sustain compliance with their discharge permits. In many cases, that means forcing elimination of the discharge and hooking up to public sewers. This is a costly proposition for many of the small operators, but a necessity for Ohio’s water quality.
For those who are constant repeat offenders, the Attorney General’s office should continue to make it a priority to investigate these operations, and prosecute these recalcitrants to the fullest extent to achieve future compliance. Further, the state must seek penalties in amounts that are far greater than the benefit received from not following the law. This is necessary tool in not only the state’s Clean Water Enforcement, but must be a staple in all enforcement of environmental, natural resource, and health laws.
Here are the four Mobile Home Parks that are giving Ohio’s watersheds a hard way to go.
Located in Lowellville, OH, Stateline’s discharge outfall drains to Kings Lake Tributary of Mill Creek (Mahoning River watershed). While more sporadic than the parks listed below over the past three years, Stateline’s exceedences have been large at times. For example, the exceedences from this outfall have been as high as 12,900% and 29,900% for Fecal Coliform, and 41,872 for Total Suspended Solids.
Millborne Manor, in the Tuscarawas River Watershed near Orville, has seen 107 effluent exceedences over the past 12 Quarters from its two discharge outfalls. These exceedenses have been for Total Suspended Solids, Nitrogen, Fecal Coliform, and Phosphorous.
Located in Girard, OH, this park discharges to Squaw Creek (Mahoning River watershed). Consistently throughout the past three years (at least) Vintage Village Estates has exceeded its maximum enforceable limits of nitrogen (from 30-735%) and Total Suspended Solids (up to 817% above permit limit)
This MHP, located in Sunbury, OH, discharges into Perfect Creek in the Upper Scioto Watershed. The three years worth of discharges from Country View include exceedences of 2680% above its nitrogen limits, 350% of its total suspended solids, and 680% of its fecal coliform.
*All four of these operations discharge into Section 303(d) listed, already impaired waters.