Wyoming Man Fights $75,000 a Day Fine From EPA For Pond He Had Permit to Build

| by Allison Geller

A Wyoming man is battling with the Environmental Protection Agency over a pond that he built on his property – an expensive and time-consuming project that he is not ready to surrender.

Andy Johnson and his wife, Katie, poured their money and energy into the stock pond on his 8-acre farm, reports. The Johnsons brought in trout, ducks, and geese for the pond, which provides a place for their horses to drink and graze as well as a site for their three children to play.

But now the EPA is threatening them with a $75,000-per-day fine and other civil and criminal penalties, Johnson says, despite the fact that he had a permit to build the pond. 

“I have not paid them a dime, nor will I,” Johnson told “I will go bankrupt if I have to fighting it. My wife and I built [the pond] together. We put our blood, sweat and tears into it. It was our dream.” 

According to the federal agency, Johnson violated the Clean Water Act by damming a creek without a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. It also claims that pond water and runoff are being discharged into other waterways.

But Johnson says a stock pond, a body of water that is man-made to attract wildlife, is exempt from Clean Water Act regulations, and that he has an April 2012 letter form the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office proving that the followed the letter of the law.

“Said permit is in good standing and is entitled to be exercised exactly as permitted,” the letter reads.

Rather than pay the hefty fines, Johnson has gotten state lawmakers involved. Two Republican senators from Wyoming and one from Louisiana have asked the EPA to withdraw its order to comply.

“Rather than a sober administration of the Clean Water Act, the Compliance Order reads like a draconian edict of a heavy-handed bureaucracy,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Nancy Stoner, the EPA’s acting assistant administration for water.

The EPA told that it is reviewing the request.

"We will carefully evaluate any additional information received and all of the facts regarding this case," a spokeswoman for the agency said. 

Johnson isn’t giving up on what he sees as a matter of principle and individual rights.

“This goes a lot further than a pond,” he said. “It’s about a person’s rights. I have three little kids. I am not going to roll over and let [the government] tell me what I can do on my land. I followed the rules.”