November 21, 2010 by staff 

Caltrans, The California Department of Transportation has ordered Tuesday to stop what federal regulators reported widespread releases of silt and pollution from road construction and maintenance sites in rivers and streams.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Caltrans one year to improve its program of stormwater management statewide and release control under threat of penalties under the Act Clean Water.

“Protecting our waters is a major priority for the EPA, and limit the damage caused by storm water from construction sites is a key goal,” said Jared Blumenfeld, regional administrator of EPA. “We urge Caltrans to join us in the struggle for water quality by controlling storm water.”

Series of field audits by regulators documented EPA Stormwater metals, sediment, oil, grease, pesticides and waste many construction sites along the 50,000 miles of Caltrans road and motorway it operates in California, said Greg Gholson, an enforcement officer and inspector for the EPA.

Among the findings, Gholson said, were lax management and lack of sediment control hillside dug during construction activities.

“We found several instances where controls were not installed properly or were not installed at all,” said Gholson, who explained that the carpet fibers may not have been put down to control runoff and erosion.

Inspections also found instances where the oils and fats have been released outside of the construction equipment.

“At any given construction site problems may not be necessary to run, but taken together the agency was very concerned about the shortcomings that have been seen,” said Gholson.

The Board directed Caltrans to improve its management and procedures and resolve problems through December 31, 2011.

Pollution from runoff has been blamed for damaging water quality in San Francisco Bay, the ocean and lakes, rivers and streams throughout the state.

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