Monica Hunt v. Ecology
Appeal of $16,000 penalty for water pollution violations
Appellant challenged Ecology’s notice of violation, penalty, and order for a restorative plan that were issued based on Ecology’s finding of the discharge of pollutants into Manastash Creek caused by Appellant’s activities in a riparian corridor of the creek. The Appellant defended her actions based on a right to conduct maintenance activities of an irrigation return flow ditch that flowed through Appellant’s land and the riparian corridor and ultimately discharged into Manastash Creek. Ecology argued the ditch was a side channel of Manastash Creek and was “water of the state” as defined in RCW 90.48.020. The Board found that the ditch was water of the state, but was not a side channel of the creek. The Board further found that while the Appellant could take action to maintain the ditch, her activities went well beyond reasonable and normal maintenance, and such activities caused or would tend to have caused the discharge of pollution in Manastash Creek in violation of RCW 90.48.080. Based on mitigating circumstances, the Board reduced the penalty and the Board remanded the case back to Ecology to reconsider the restoration plan because of recent flooding and resulting changes to the flow of Manastash Creek.