Asphalt laid atop Crossroads East site in violation of Clean Water Act

Scottsdale City Hall is at 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd. in downtown Scottsdale. (File photo)

Two agreements were reached between the United States Corps of Engineering and the city of Scottsdale in early July, for alleged violations of the Federal Clean Water Act.

A settlement agreement and tolling agreement are believed to be in the best interest of the city, given the potential for fines and other actions if Scottsdale is found in violation, the city attorney’s office says.

On July 3, the Scottsdale City Council approved on consent a tolling agreement and a settlement agreement between the city and the U.S. Corps of Engineers, including the Phoenix Thunderbirds as an additional party for both agreements, for alleged federal violations at the site known as Crossroads East at Loop 101 and Hayden Road.

The agreements arise from the placement of asphalt millings used for dust control on temporary event parking lots in unnamed ephemeral washes on the Crossroads East property, a city staff report states.

The land is owned by the state of Arizona and manged by the Arizona State Land Department. The general Crossroads East area has also recently been discussed as a new corporate center for Nationwide Realty Investors, should the company be successful in bidding for the land this summer.

Scottsdale City Attorney Bruce Washburn, who oversees the legal proceedings of the West’s Most Western Town. (Independent Newspapers/Arianna Grainey

According to city officials, prior to 2009, the Thunderbirds and other event producers held State Land Use Permits for their events and event parking needs. In 2009, the city — at the request of the state land department — established a new state land use permit, allowing Scottsdale to enter into individual agreements with event producers for production of special events including parking of vehicles on the Crossroads East property.

The city entered into an agreement with the Thunderbirds for continued use of a portion of the Crossroads property for Waste Management Phoenix Open parking. Prior to 2009, under the Thunderbirds’ individual permit with the state land department, efforts to reduce the potential for dust control violations led the Thunderbirds to lay asphalt millings on the surface of the Crossroads property, according to the city of Scottsdale.

“Over the course of several years, the millings were spread into the washes and water ways, which are potentially jurisdictional waters of the United States, within the meaning of the Clean Water Act,” the city staff report states.

“The Corps identified their concerns that the Thunderbirds failed to obtain a permit from the Corps authorizing the alleged discharge and the city as the permitting agency failed to require the Thunderbirds to secure these permits.”

In an effort to settle the potential Clean Water Act violation, the Thunderbirds will pay an amount for compensatory mitigation and the city of Scottsdale agrees to develop and implement a Clean Water Act compliance awareness training program.

The classroom training program will be mandatory for all employees whose duties involve certain water and compliance duties, and will need to be reviewed after five years.

The tolling agreement serves to allow the United States government time to monitor the creation and implantation of the training program and payment of the mitigation fee.

“Given the risk of litigating against the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the alleged discharge of asphalt millings into the ephemeral washes in the Crossroads East property and the potential for fines and other potential regulatory actions if the city is found in violation, the City Attorney’s Office believes that the settlement requiring the city to develop and implement a Clean Water Act compliance training program is in the best interest of the city and the settlement agreement and tolling agreement will resolve any uncertainty associated with a prosecution by the Federal Government,” the staff report states.

Northeast Valley News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be e-mailed at mfittro@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/melissafittro.

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