Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Friday, May 30, 2014
EPA targets couple's private pond in Wyoming, threatens huge fines
When Andy and Katie Johnson built a pond on their property in 2011 to provide water for their cattle, they never dreamed it would result in threats of $75,000 a day in fines from the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Johnsons believed they had done everything necessary to get permission for the pond, where the tiny Six Mile Creek runs through their property south of Fort Bridger, Wyo. The Wyoming State Engineer's Office provided the permit and even stated in an April 4, 2013 letter to the Johnsons: "All of the legal requirements of the State Engineer's Office, that were your responsibility, have been satisfied for the Johnson Stock Reservoir." The EPA saw it differently -- and sent the Johnsons a Jan. 30 notice informing them they had violated the Clean Water Act, which could carry thousands of dollars in fines.
"I believe that the EPA does need to regulate industry and the bigger projects," Andy Johnson conceded, "but my little pristine stock pond, I believe, is a waste of our taxpayer money for them to come after me. It's a waste of my time, it's a waste of my money and we're going to fight it."
In their notice, the EPA cited the couple for "the discharge of pollutants (i.e., dredged or fill material) into the waters of the United States," for building a dam and for not getting a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.
Andy Johnson denies the project caused any pollution. "It's all an assumption. There's been no soil samples done, there's been no water samples done."
The Johnsons have since had their own testing done which they say shows that the water leaving the pond is cleaner than the water entering it. They also say that, far from damaging the environment, the pond has improved it.
"Before we didn't have ducks and geese. ... Now you can see bald eagles here, we have moose come down. We have blue herons that come in every evening. Before we did this ... it was basically just a little irrigation canal."
The EPA says Six Mile Creek runs into Black Forks River which runs into the Green River -- which it calls a "navigable, interstate water of the United States."
The Johnsons and their attorney say Six Mile Creek has long been diverted about 300 yards below their property into a man-made canal used for irrigation.
"There is no connection to the river," Andy Johnson maintains...more