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Galt-area developer violated federal Clean Water Act, EPA says

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Posted: Thursday, February 10, 2005 10:00 pm

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week ordered Galt-area developer Ryan Voorhees to stop dumping unspecified materials into a creek just south of Valley Springs.

The federal agency also ordered Voorhees to develop a plan to restore and monitor damages caused to the three-acre site, said EPA spokeswoman Lisa Fasano. The developer's dumping is a violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

Fasano said she wasn't sure what materials Voorhees dumped into the creek and wetlands, but in most cases the material is some kind of dirt.

Failure to comply with the EPA order could result in a $32,500 fine per day, Fasano added.

"We hope to get it all resolved over next two months," Voorhees said Thursday afternoon.

Voorhees, the developer of Gold Creek Estates, a gated community with 385 homes near New Hogan Reservoir in western Calaveras County, said he has already submitted a restoration and monitoring plan with the EPA. He said he is confident the EPA will approve his plan in the near future.

The EPA accused Voorhees of dumping fill material into Cosgrove Creek, a tributary of the Calaveras River. EPA officials aren't aware of any endangered species or habitat in and near the creek, Fasano said.

Voorhees is the president of CRV Enterprises, which has developed several ranchettes between Galt and Thornton.

According to the EPA, Voorhees used heavy equipment to grade, compact and fill about three acres in Cosgrove Creek and nearby wetlands without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps issued Voorhees with a cease and desist order in April 2003 and forwarded the complaint to the EPA when Voorhees failed to comply, Fasano said. The EPA inspected Voorhees' property last June and discovered the violation.

"I never thought it was violation at all," Voorhees said. "I filled in some old road excavation work, and the Army Corps deemed that a violation."

A previous developer excavated the area and created a depression on the land, probably in the early 1990s, but abandoned the project during the real estate recession at that time, Voorhees explained.

He says he was the one who actually sought the EPA's involvement because he couldn't get anywhere with the Corps.

"Over the last two years, we sent several mitigation proposals to (the Corps)," Voorhees said. "The bureaucracy is so awkward and cumbersome."

In addition to developing ranchettes west of Galt, Voorhees is in the process of selling land in eastern Lockeford.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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