The Montecito Creek Water Company has agreed to pay about $20,000 to Santa Barbara County and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of a settlement regarding its environmental violations and the use of water in Hot Spring Creek, according to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.
The case surrounding the Montecito Creek Water Company’s use of water in Hot Spring Creek was filed on June 25 of this year in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.
The Montecito Creek Water Company has property rights to some of the water in Hot Springs Creek for residential use, but according to the DA’s Office and Department of Fish and Wildlife, the water company does not have the permit required to divert water from a stream.
When the Department of Fish and Wildlife sent people to the area, officials say they found broken water pipes abandoned in the creek and the use of cement to install pipes. The DA’s Office says using wet cement is an environmental issue because it contains pH levels that can sterilize fish and plant life in the creek.
Following these findings, the DA’s Office filed a lawsuit against the Montecito Creek Water Company alleging that it did not have the proper authorization from the Department of Fish and Wildlife to divert water from the creek and use concrete to install pipes.
The settlement agreement means the water company must pay $20,000 in civil penalties.
Of that, $10,000 will be paid to the County of Santa Barbara and Fish and Wildlife Propagation Fund. The other $10,000 will reportedly be paid to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Fish and Game Preservation Fund.
The company must also pay $5,000 to the DA’s Office for reimbursement of investigation costs.
In addition, the water company must comply with the terms of the Streambed Alteration Agreement that it negotiated with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
District Attorney Joyce Dudley said these violations threatened the “health of our valuable natural resources.”
“We are grateful that the defendants agreed to resolve this matter, take appropriate remedial actions, and take the necessary steps to comply with the law in the future,” Dudley said.