City to pay $3.2 million for stormwater enforcement lapses

Will fund work at Penasquitos, San Diego River, Chollas Creek

$630,000 to go toward restoring Penasquitos Lagoon.
  • $630,000 to go toward restoring Penasquitos Lagoon.

The City of San Diego has agreed to pay the state water board $3.2 million for water pollution resulting from lax enforcement of sediment-control measures at construction sites near the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon, Tijuana River Estuary, and San Diego Bay.

The city and the San Diego Regional Water Control Board reached the tentative settlement on April 13.

The regional water board filed the complaint against the city in July of last year as reported by the Reader. The complaint found that city officials and construction site investigators routinely allowed construction companies to bypass sediment-control measures, resulting in storm water runoff that destroyed wildlife habitats and added significant sediment pollution to the San Diego Bay and other waterways. Since 2010, investigators for the state water agency issued numerous violations to the city for failing to enforce the runoff regulations.

The $3.2 million dollar settlement is a significant decrease from the initial $4.6 million dollar fine.

According to the terms of the settlement, the city will pay $1.6 million to a state cleanup and abatement fund. The remaining $1.6 million will be used to fund the completion of four restoration projects at Los Penasquitos Lagoon ($630,000). removing an invasive grass from the San Diego River ($225,000), restoration studies at Chollas Creek ($72,400), and identifying tools to protect the area's waterways ($682,932).

If the city does not meet the requirements of the settlement, it would then be responsible for the initial $4.6 million in fines as well as penalties.

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