A 2006 Clean Water Act violation case against Century Homebuilders has been closed with the receipt of payment of $400,000 in civil penalties plus the purchase of $60,000 in mitigation credits from Everglades National Park. The penalties were assessed in a 2010 consent decree between the U.S. District Court in Miami and Century Homebuilders, when Century Homebuilders failed to fulfill its commitment to enhance 47 acres of wetlands associated with a residential development in the city of Doral, Miami-Dade County, Fla.
The Clean Water Act requires authorization in the form of a Department of the Army permit, issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including certain wetlands. The permit issued to Century Homebuilders authorized impacts to 415 acres of wetlands for the Doral development, with the condition that the company offset those impacts by restoring other wetlands in Everglades National Park and enhancing 47 acres of remaining wetlands on site.
The Corps found that Century failed to enhance the 47-acre parcel to the level required by the permit. The consent decree ordered Century Homebuilders to pay a penalty, maintain and preserve the on-site wetlands in perpetuity and purchase $60,000 worth of wetland mitigation credits to account for the delay in enhancing the wetlands.
Century Homebuilders failed to make the civil penalty payments required by the 2010 consent decree and sold the wetland mitigation parcel without properly advising the government. Upon learning of the violations, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion to hold Century Homebuilders and its corporate representative, Sergio Pino, in contempt of court.
In subsequent mediation between Century and the Department of Justice, a new settlement and modified consent decree was reached, holding Pino personally responsible for payment of the penalties initially assessed in 2010. The government also required additional financial assurances to ensure that the 47-acre mitigation site would be permanently protected and maintained.
On April 1, 2013, Century completed paying the $400,000 civil penalty required by the consent decree. Also, all of the remedial work on the 47-acre parcel has been completed and financial assurances to protect the site put in place, closing the case.
“Compliance and enforcement is an important component of the Corps’ regulatory program and helps us to ensure the continued protection of our nation’s aquatic resources,” said Theresa Hudson, chief of Jacksonville District’s enforcement section. “We take violations and unauthorized activities very seriously.”