New Hampshire sand and gravel companies sued over stormwater runoff

Conservation Law Foundation targets Belmont, Laconia firms

The Conservation Law Foundation has sued two New Hampshire sand and gravel operations, charging that they both discharged waste into nearby rivers without getting a proper permit.

One operation agreed Friday to settle by pledging to improve environmental practices and paying $40,000, including legal fees.

Both companies could face civil penalties of more than $50,000 a day. 

The suits, filed Sept. 17 in U.S. District court in Concord, allege activities of Nutter Enterprises and Gilmanton Sand & Gravel, two Belmont firms, resulted in runoffs during rainstorms that generated stormwater pollution that went into the Taigas River, a tributary of the Winnipesaukee River. 

A separate suit charges Del R. Gilbert & Son Block Co. Inc., a sand, gravel and concrete facility in Laconia, engaged in the same practices resulting in stormwater pollution of Durkee Brook, which is a tributary of Winnisquam Lake.

CLF said it notified the companies in June and then waited at least 60 days before it could commence action under the federal Clean Water Act.

Neither company responded to inquiries, but William Nutter, president of the two Belmont companies, signed a proposed consent decree on Sept. 28, agreeing – without admission of guilt – to refrain from such discharges and implement a stormwater pollution prevention plan with the help of a hired engineering consultant. It also agreed to institute erosion and sediments control best practices as well as a monitoring program. 

Under the agreement, CLF will be able to inspect the operations each year. Nutter also agreed to pay $20,000 to the Lakes Region Conservation Trust for the protection of the Merrimack River Watershed and another $20,000 in legal fees to CLF.

The settlement still has to be approved by court.

CLF has an office in Concord, but the attorneys involved in the suit are from Massachusetts and Vermont. A spokesperson for the group said last week said that both suits “are focused on protecting New Hampshire’s waterways from stormwater pollution, and they are consistent with CLF’s commitment to defending waters throughout New England.”

He added that it was premature to comment further.

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