In addition to any other liability or penalty provided by law, the State Department of Agriculture may impose a civil penalty on a landowner of lands within an agricultural or rural area subject to a water quality management plan for failure to comply with rules implementing the plan.
The department may not impose a civil penalty on a landowner for a first violation under this section unless the department:
Has notified the landowner of the violation in a writing that describes, with reasonable specificity, the factual basis for the department’s determination that a violation has occurred; and
Has prescribed a reasonable time for the landowner to correct the violation that may not exceed 30 days after the first notice of a violation, unless the violation requires more than 30 days to correct, in which case the department shall specify a reasonable period of time to correct the violation in a plan of correction issued to the landowner.
A civil penalty imposed under this section may not exceed:
$2,500 for a first violation; or
$10,000 for a second or subsequent violation.
For purposes of this section, each day of a violation continuing after any period of time of correction set by the department is a separate violation unless the department finds that a different period of time is more appropriate to describe a specific violation event.
The landowner to whom a notice of violation or a notice of civil penalty is addressed shall have 30 days from the date of receipt of the notice in which to make written application for a hearing before the department.
In imposing a penalty under this section, the department shall consider the following factors:
The past history of the landowner incurring a penalty in taking all feasible steps or procedures necessary or appropriate to correct a violation.
Any prior violations of rules, regulations or statutes pertaining to a water quality management plan.
The gravity and magnitude of the violation.
Whether the violation was repeated or continuous.
Whether the cause of the violation was an unavoidable accident, negligence or an intentional act.
The violator’s efforts to correct the violation.
The immediacy and extent to which the violation threatens the public health or safety.
A notice of violation or period to comply shall not be required under subsection (2) of this section if:
The violation is intentional; or
The landowner has received a previous notice of the same or similar violation.
The department shall deposit any civil penalty recovered under this section into a special subaccount in the Department of Agriculture Service Fund. Moneys in the subaccount are continuously appropriated to the department to be used for educational programs on water quality management and to provide funding for water quality management demonstration projects.
The State Department of Agriculture shall reduce the amount of any civil penalty imposed under this section by the amount of any civil penalty imposed by the Environmental Quality Commission or the Department of Environmental Quality for violations of water quality rules or standards, if the latter penalty is imposed on the same person and is based on the same violation. [1993 c.263 §8; 2001 c.442 §4; 2001 c.594 §7]