Updated: December 8, 2012 6:38AM
PINGREE GROVE — Trustees have approved paying a $10,000 fine for violations in the village sewer system that they blame on Pingree Grove’s former engineering firm.
The violations were discovered by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency inspector during a routine inspection of other newly constructed sewers in the village. The village contends that former village engineer Lintech Engineering LLC installed sewers without the required permits and designed a pump and haul system that didn’t meet state requirements.
In a memo prepared for Monday night board meeting, village attorney Dean Frieders and Administrator Ken Lopez explained that the village has been working with IEPA and Illinois Attorney General’s Office for the past several months to resolve the issue.
“Because of the fact that the village was unaware that they were being operated unlawfully and the village acted on the professional counsel of Lintech when designing and installing the system,” Frieders told trustees, “the EPA has proposed a compliance agreement that is very favorable in terms of what they have done with other municipalities in similar situations.”
Fines for the violations could have reached into the millions of dollars, based on the maximum daily fine. Frieders also noted that the attorney general’s office could have taken the village to court, increasing village’s time and costs on the case. Instead, the matter was referred to the Pollution Control Board for review.
According to the settlement statement, the village operated a holding tank and sewer connection between the holding tank and a sewer system extension for about two years without the proper permits. It also says the village was “diligent in coming back into compliance with the Act and Board regulations once the IEPA notified it of its noncompliance.”
The violations began in January 2009 and were resolved in November 2011.
A budget amendment to pay the fine was approved unanimously, missing only a vote from Trustee Ray LaMarca, who was absent from the meeting. It will add a contingency line item to the village’s water and sewer budget.
The village has filed a lawsuit against Lintech and its principal, Jeremy Lin, seeking reimbursement for the IEPA fine, among other claims. The violations were one of the primary reasons the village says it fired Lintech last April.