Montecito Creek Water Company has settled a civil environmental lawsuit and will pay $25,000 in penalties and court costs.
According to a report released by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office on Thursday, the lawsuit was filed on June 25 in Santa Barbara County Superior Court. Montecito Creek Water Company did not admit liability in the agreement.
The company has the right to some of the water in Hot Springs Creek for residential use, but the Department of Fish and Wildlife determined the company did not obtain the proper permits to divert water from the creek. The department also found evidence of galvanized water pipes abandoned in the creek and the use of cement to install water diversion pipes.
“Wet cement contains pH levels that can sterilize fish and plant life in a creek bed. In the civil suit, the District Attorney alleged that the Water Company, without proper authorization from the Department of Fish and Wildlife, substantially diverted water from the creek, used concrete to install diversion pipes, and abandoned old pipes in the creek,” read the report.
The water company will pay $10,000 to the County, Fish and Wildlife Propagation Fund, $10,000 to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Fish and Game Preservation Fund and $5,000 to the DA’s Office as reimbursement for costs of investigation and prosecution.
The company also agreed to an injunction to comply with the terms of the Streambed Alteration Agreement that it negotiated with the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The settlement also contains provisions for remediation and restoration of the creek.