On June 24, 2010, the Fish & Wildlife Service issued a Notice of Violation to the City of Birmingham, Alabama for allegedly killing an estimated 11,700 endangered watercress darters, and injuring approximately 8,900 others, in a single incident in 2008. The Service is seeking $2,975,000 in civil penalties as a result of the incident.
The watercress darter is found in only five spring brooks and spring pools in Birmingham, Alabama. In September 2008, a Birmingham maintenance crew allegedly breached an earthen dam and drained a spring pool, stranding and killing thousands of watercress darters. The incident resulted in the loss of more than half of the largest known population of the species.
The City of Birmingham has 45 days to either pay the proposed civil penalty, initiate informal negotiations with the Service, or file a Petition for Relief in accordance with the Service’s regulations.