Illegal Construction Project in Lewis County Results in Water Quality Violations and Penalties

Landowner fined $168,000 for polluting state waters and failing to mitigate damage caused by construction activities

An illegal construction project in Lewis County, Washington, has led to polluted and muddy water flowing into Klickitat Creek, causing damage to nearby roads and a neighbor’s drinking water well. The landowner, Isaac West, has been penalized $168,000 by the Washington Department of Ecology for repeated water quality violations. This article will explore the environmental impact of the construction project, the failures in mitigation efforts, and the consequences faced by the landowner.

Negligent Construction Practices Result in Water Pollution

Despite receiving technical assistance and warning letters, Isaac West failed to acquire a construction stormwater permit and neglected to stabilize soils or install pollution prevention controls. As a result, Ecology inspectors discovered numerous instances of muddy water flowing from the site into a drainage ditch that leads to Klickitat Creek. Groundwater springs on the property were also found to be polluted. Water samples collected from the site revealed excessive turbidity levels that exceeded state limits, posing a threat to aquatic life and water quality.

Environmental and Financial Implications

The illegal construction project has not only endangered lives but also caused significant environmental degradation and financial burden on the citizens of Lewis County. The damage to nearby county roads and the disruption of a neighbor’s drinking water well highlight the adverse consequences of West’s actions. Lewis County Commissioner Scott Brummer expressed support for the Department of Ecology’s actions to ensure compliance, mitigate the impacts, and protect the safety of the community and water quality.

Failure to Comply with Regulations

Despite the efforts of Lewis County and the Department of Ecology to work with Isaac West and ensure his understanding of his obligations, he continued to operate in a manner that allowed large quantities of mud to run off his property and affect nearby streams. The failure to acquire a construction stormwater permit and the absence of pollution prevention controls demonstrate a disregard for regulations and responsible construction practices.

Penalty and Potential Appeal

As a consequence of the water quality violations, Isaac West has been fined $168,000 by the Washington Department of Ecology. He has 30 days to pay the penalty or appeal it to the state Pollution Control Hearings Board. The penalty payment, if made, will be deposited into the state’s Coastal Protection Fund, which provides grants for water quality restoration projects to public agencies and tribes.


The illegal construction project in Lewis County has had severe environmental and financial implications. The pollution of state waters, damage to nearby infrastructure, and disruption of a neighbor’s drinking water well highlight the importance of responsible construction practices and compliance with regulations. The penalties imposed on Isaac West serve as a reminder that water quality protection is a crucial aspect of any construction project. It is imperative that landowners and developers prioritize environmental stewardship to ensure the safety of communities and the preservation of water resources.






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