The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized an administrative order with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power over federal Clean Water Act violations, it was announced Wednesday.
Under the terms of the order, LADWP will purchase $5.3 million in mitigation credits for damaging wetlands on its Granada Hills property. LADWP will also pay a $94,000 penalty, according to the EPA.
The EPA, along with the Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, conducted an inspection in 2016 and found extensive vegetation clearing and soil displacement on the property, located in the San Fernando Detention Basin, according to the federal environmental agency.
Inspectors concluded that between 2013 and 2016, nearly eight acres of open water and adjacent wetlands in the basin had been graded, filled and channelized without a proper permit.
"Wetlands have a unique ecological niche in the arid West and must be protected," said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker.
"Healthy wetlands help filter stormwater, create sustainable habitats and buffer communities from flooding."
EPA officials said that LADWP will purchase $5.3 million in mitigation credits at the Peterson Ranch Mitigation Bank. Mitigation banking is used to preserve, enhance, restore or create a wetland to compensate for adverse impacts to similar nearby ecosystems.
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Under the Clean Water Act, companies must obtain a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers before discharging pollutants including dredge and fill materials into waters of the United States, which include wetlands.