Pond maintenance company penalized for repeated violations of state pesticide laws
Secretary for Environmental Protection
Craig Cassidy, DPR Information Officer
(916) 207-1099 | Craig.firstname.lastname@example.org
SACRAMENTO – A Sacramento-area company accused of numerous violations of state pesticide laws – including employee safety and training violations in four counties – will be placed on a two-year license probation and must pay a $20,000 fine to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) under the terms of settlement agreements with DPR and the Sacramento County District Attorney.
The company, Waterworks Aquatic Management Inc., also reached a settlement agreement with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and agreed to pay a $20,000 penalty for violating its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.
All these violations occurred after Waterworks entered a 2018 stipulated judgment with the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office. At the time, the company and owner Kevin M. Towle admitted that they illegally applied pesticides that are toxic to fish and other aquatic life to residential ponds. This tainted water then migrated into neighboring waterways, including Linda Creek in Placer County, a tributary of the Sacramento River, and Hinkle Creek in Sacramento County, a tributary of the American River.
Waterworks is a pest control business based in Granite Bay that provides pest control for decorative ponds and fountains. As with all individual and business licensees under the regulatory oversight of DPR, Towle and the company must strictly adhere to all applicable pesticide laws and regulations, including those concerning the handling, use and storage of pesticides.
"Waterworks' and its owner's violations are particularly egregious in the face of their serious prior violations of pesticide laws that risked human health and the environment," said DPR Director Julie Henderson.
"We appreciate the hard work and diligence of our county agricultural commissioner partners in El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Solano counties in identifying and investigating these violations."
The violations detailed in the department's stipulated settlement agreement with Towle and Waterworks include failing to register with the agricultural commissioners' offices in Sacramento, Solano, and Placer counties, plus violations of employee safety and training protocols in those counties and in El Dorado County. The safety and training violations included employees not wearing proper safety equipment and the company's failure to post medical care information.
Under the terms of Towle's and Waterworks' two-year licensing probation with the department, they must notify the department before applying any restricted material -- pesticides deemed to have a higher potential to cause harm to public health or the environment, compared to other pesticides. The company must also document and submit proof of employee training to the department and notify the department when registering in any new counties where they plan to do business, among other requirements. Towle must also complete additional continuing education on pesticide laws and regulations administered by a DPR-approved provider.
Further violations by the company or Towle could result in a revocation of their pesticide applicator licenses.
For more information on this stipulated settlement agreement, see DPR's website.