The Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) filed a complaint on Monday against an individual defendant, Brock Maslonka, for illegally discharging material into the Perkins Slough in Pend Oreille County, Wash. The Clean Water Act (CWA) suit seeks injunctive relief, including requiring the defendant to mitigate the damage he caused, and the assessment of civil penalties.
The complaint contended that in September 2015 the defendant illegally “caused fill material to be discharged into Perkins Slough,” approximately 0.7 miles from its mouth on his property adjacent to Washington State Highway 20. He did so by allegedly creating “an earthen dam across the Slough approximately 100 feet wide and 200 feet long that blocks the flow of water” using both mechanized land-clearing and earth-moving equipment.
The next month, a collection of local, state, and federal agencies visited the site to observe the dam. In November 2015, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife sent the defendant a letter notifying him that the dam he built was unauthorized and requested its removal. A county agency sent him another letter in January 2016 stating the same.
In February 2016, the defendant’s dam backed up and flooded the neighboring highway. To mitigate the issue, he breached the dam, causing part of it to fail and releasing earthen material into the Perkins Slough.
The agencies subsequently sent the defendant several more letters, culminating with his response in May 2016, that he refused to remove the dam. Beginning in 2018, the defendant seemingly capitulated with the agencies’ requests. He retained an environmental consultant and engaged in negotiations with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create a satisfactory restoration plan.
After he submitted a draft plan that the EPA approved of, the defendant “abandoned his efforts to voluntarily remedy the alleged violations and ( ) he refused to remove the dam” in July or August 2019. Because the illegally discharged earthen material still encumbers the Perkins Slough, the ENRD now seeks judicially ordered relief.
The United States is represented by counsel from the Environment and Natural Resources Division.