How is this different?
The Allegheny County Conservation District derives its regulatory authority through delegation agreements with the state. The agreements are defined as Levels I, II, and III, with Level I being the most limited and Level III providing for the greatest amount of authority.
Under our prior Level ll delegation, we reviewed E&S plans and NPDES permit applications, and issued coverage under General NPDES permits. We inspected NPDES permitted sites, and investigated complaints. When we haven’t been able to achieve voluntary compliance, we prepared enforcement referrals for DEP and presented inspection documentation during DEP administrative enforcement conferences.
Under the new Level lll delegation, we carry the above responsibilities that we had under Level ll and extend them by now having the authority to schedule and prepare administrative enforcement conferences and assess penalties.
In doing so, we’ll spend our time more efficiently and allow DEP to devote time to the rest of the Southwest Region. Currently, two DEP Compliance Specialists cover the entire ten-county Southwest Region, and their prioritization of compliance activities can cause delays in the process associated with a given site.
Violations that accelerate to the penalty phase will be evaluated by a local Compliance Committee and administered by local staff. We’ll follow DEP’s process for assessing penalties. Monies collected, with the exception of cost recovery funds to cover our staff costs, will be directed to the PA Clean Water Fund.
We won’t have the authority to “shut down” work on sites, but we will ask parties to voluntarily cease work until violations are addressed, as we currently do. We won’t assess fines on the spot. We don’t anticipate that there will be more enforcement activity than we’ve experienced as a Level ll district.
We’ll continue to cooperate with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, DEP, and Allegheny County municipalities.
Again, we don’t anticipate that there will be many more enforcement activities than we currently see. It’s our expectation that we can achieve voluntary compliance, which results in the reduction of sediment pollution to Allegheny County waterways.