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Consent order executed between FDEP, construction companies over Ortega River silt plumes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As of Monday August 6, 2020 a consent order between the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), Marietta Sand Corporation and RLH Construction LLC was voluntarily entered into by both parties.

This consent order was drafted after multiple violations of turbidity plumes flowing into the Ortega River from the construction site during heavy rains.

According to the order, violations were observed on site by the FDEP on May 27, 2020, June 5, 11 and 30, 2020 and July 10, 2020.

These violations included turbidity levels that exceeded water quality standards and insufficient best management practices.

As a result the responsible parities have been fined $26,500 for the violations.

Going forward the consent order enforces that best management practices be put in place, like putting up silt barriers and temporary asphalt to keep loose dirt and silt in place.

Within 45 days a third party must also perform a “River Assessment” to evaluate the Ortega River and canal for sediment resulting from erosion of the construction site.

Within 50 days the respondents must submit a report the “River Assessment” results.

From the effective date until the final stabilization of the project is achieved the respondents must take turbidity samples every day during heavy rain events upon appearance of a turbidity plume and report the results. High turbidity levels could result in another fine.

As of August 6th the respondents have started putting the best management practices in place.

The photos below show a turbidity plume back in May and one in August. There is a noticeable difference between the two with the turbidity plume improving greatly.

Turbidity plume flowing into the Ortega River. May 2020.
Turbidity plume flowing into the Ortega River. May 2020. (Sharon and Don Light)
Turbidity plume in Ortega River. August 2020.
Turbidity plume in Ortega River. August 2020. (Sharon and Don Light)

The FDEP is confident that with the consent order in place and frequent inspections the issue will improve.

The following statement is from the FDEP:

"The Department remains committed to conducting regular site visits to ensure all corrective actions are working. After our last site visit, staff confirmed the completion of the most important of the short-term corrective actions, putting temporary asphalt over the areas that had exposed limerock, the greatest contributor to the turbidity plumes. It was further observed responsible parties have greatly improved their Best Management Practices (BMPs) around disturbed earth.

Additionally, the Department determined that formal enforcement actions with the responsible parties that include longer term corrective actions and the assessment of appropriate fines/penalties was necessary. A consent order between our Department and the responsible parties was executed on August 6, 2020.”


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