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Scappoose developer fined for water quality violations

by: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Paul Scharf measures the width of a driveway Wednesday at a home he built. Scharf was recently fined by the Department of Environmental Quality for water quality violations at this housing development in Scappoose.

A local housing developer is being fined $13,650 for water quality violations at a housing development site in Scappoose.

According to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Paul Bertrem Scharf failed to comply with the conditions of a stormwater permit issued to him. A DEQ representative said Scharf was cited after he did not follow his own soil erosion and sediment control plans and stopped submitting inspection reports, as required.

“What happened here is he stopped doing inspections on a daily basis and every two weeks he was supposed to submit inspections to us so we could monitor,” Steve Siegel, a compliance and enforcement officer with the DEQ, said.

An order issued to Scharf by DEQ on June 30 indicates specific methods of erosion control are needed to prevent “a significant amount of sediment from entering the South Fork of Scappoose Creek.”

Siegel said Scharf hired two different inspectors at his job site, both of which identified problems on the site.

Scharf submitted a few reports in March, but then ceased to submit additional communication to the state, according to the order. The order also states he didn’t use industry standard best management practices, like properly installed matting, at the site.

“Sediments discharged into streams cover up food sources, abrade fish gills, smother fish eggs and aquatic life living in streambeds, and impair fish vision making it more difficult for them to feed and avoid predators,” a DEQ news release states.

Furthermore, Siegel said residents at the housing development are worried.

“I know that some of the homeowners who are there are concerned about the stability of where their homes are and the stability around their homes,” Siegel said. “If the homes are eroding away, that can have an impact on homeowners.”

Scharf was issued a stormwater permit under his name. He was also fined $6,300 in August 2013 for the same violations on the same job site. Siegel said Scharf negotiated a fine amount for that case and resolved the matter after paying about $5,200.

County records indicate Scharf was at one time an owner with Lower Willamette Construction, LLC, a now defunct company. Efforts to contact him were unsuccessful.

Scharf has until July 21 to pay or appeal the recent citation. Siegel said DEQ does not have a policy that establishes how many violations can occur before additional disciplinary actions are taken against a violator.