The welder got the required permit, never imagining a stand-off with the Environmental Protection Agency, Fox News reported.
Johnson and his wife put their “blood, sweat and tears” into the pond, but they now face civil and criminal penalties, including a possible $75,000-a-day fine.
“I have not paid them a dime, nor will I,” he told Fox News. “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.”
Fox News reported:
The government says he violated the Clean Water Act by building a dam on a creek without a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. Further, the EPA claims that material from his pond is being discharged into other waterways. Johnson says he built a stock pond — a man-made pond meant to attract wildlife — which is exempt from Clean Water Act regulations.
The EPA requires the land be restored, but Johnson has no intentions of backing down.
“This goes a lot further than a pond,” he said. “It’s about a person’s rights. I have three little kids. I’m not going to roll over and let [the government] tell me what I can do on my land. I followed the rules.”
Johnson has won the support of several lawmakers, who sent a letter to the EPA saying they were “troubled” by the case, according to Fox News.
Republican U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi, both of Wyoming, and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., signed on to the letter, which said:
“Fairness and due process require the EPA base its compliance order on more than an assumption,” they wrote. “Instead of treating Mr. Johnson as guilty until he proves his innocence by demonstrating his entitlement to the Clean Water Act section 404 (f)(1)(C) stock pond exemption, EPA should make its case that a dam was built and that the Section 404 exemption does not apply.”
The agency told Fox News it is reviewing the senators’ letter.