A lawsuit alleges Ecology Service Inc. failed to stop stormwater runoff. Image: Magothy River Association/Facebook

Waste Firm Hit with $2.1 Million Lawsuit over Magothy Runoff that Stopped Yellow Perch Spawn

The state of Maryland is keeping its recent promise to hold a waste management and recycling company accountable for stormwater runoff that washed sediment into the Magothy River headwaters, compromising this year’s yellow perch spawn.

Bay Bulletin reported two weeks ago on a heartbreaking scene for Magothy River Association (MRA) volunteers: strands of nonviable eggs. Sand and clay particles from runoff at Lake Waterford got stuck in the jelly membrane of the embryos, preventing them from developing, MRA President Paul Spadaro explained.

Now, the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh have filed a $2.1 million lawsuit against Ecology Services Inc., just up the road from the spawning site in Pasadena. The lawsuit filed in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court claims the business “operated without required permits and in violation of an agreement to prevent water pollution from the site.” According to the suit, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) inspectors have observed mud and sediment being tracked offsite, and found evidence of other pollution like trash and oil discharges, during a series of inspections in 2020.

The facility’s entrance, exit, parking area and fueling area are unpaved and exposed to stormwater, which mixes with stormwater from Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard and is discharged to the Magothy River, the suit states. The Columbia, Md.-based company uses the facility for heavy vehicle storage, fueling, and operations.

The lawsuit seeks financial penalties of up to $10,000 for each day it operated without the permits required for the property’s industrial use. The suit claims that was a total of 213 days, from Jan. 3, 2020 to Aug. 3, 2020.

The suit also seeks a court order requiring the facility to perform all necessary work to meet the terms of a consent order agreement to prevent stormwater pollution that Ecology Services agreed to in 2020.

Ecology Services Inc. has not responded to requests for comment from Bay Bulletin.

“The Maryland Department of the Environment is taking this strong enforcement action to bring this facility into compliance with our clean water laws and to protect the Magothy River,” said Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles. 

Spadaro is glad to see Ecology Services held accountable, posting on Facebook, “The Magothy River Association will continue to monitor the situation at Lake Waterford as this landmark case moves through the court system. MRA volunteers are working daily preserving and protecting the Magothy for generations to enjoy.

-Meg Walburn Viviano