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City fined $795,000 for allegedly spilling sewage into nearby rivers [Updated]


Alhambra City Government has settled with the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board last week to pay a $795,000 penalty for allegedly discharging raw sewage into local water bodies, the Pasadena Star-News reported.

The fine penalizes the city for allegedly discharging millions of gallons of raw sewage that ran into the Los Angeles and Rio Hondo rivers, as well as other water bodies, in five separate occasions between March 2011 and July 2013. One of these instances occurred when a sewer line was accidentally connected to a storm drain, the Water Board said in a press release. This accident resulted in over 6 million gallons of sewage spilling into the Laguna Wash.

“We cooperated with the board and understand this is a resolution that will satisfy the board,” Alhambra Assistant City Attorney Rachel Richman told the Star-News. “The city is fully prepared to comply with the consent judgment and pay the penalty.”

Moreover, the city has agreed to enhance its infrastructure and conduct “severe” and “major” repairs to upgrade its sewer system. The projects include improving the city’s gravity sewer system and restoring lift stations, said the Water Board. These initiatives are included in the city’s planned capital improvement projects. An additional $1.8 million in penalties may be handed down if the city does not complete the improvement projects. 

The Source will follow up with the city and the Board for more details.

Update 2.11.16

The city will take from its sewer fund, not the general fund, to pay for the $795,000 fine.

Assistant City Attorney Rachel Richman elaborated on an incident when an Alhambra sewer line was accidentally connected to a storm drain. She said that a company contracted by the city was working on Alhambra's sewer system when it incorrectly connected the sewer line. Alhambra staff did not notice this error until a period later, after more than 6 million gallons of sewage spilled into the Laguna Wash. Upon realizing this, Alhambra alerted the Water Board of the mistake.

The infrastructure improvement projects, which will need to be completed to avoid an extra $1.8 million in fines, are expected to take place over the course of 10 years. 

Correction: An earlier version of this article said that the city will use money from its water fund to cover the fine. The city will use money from its sewer fund.

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6 thoughts on “City fined $795,000 for allegedly spilling sewage into nearby rivers [Updated]”

  1. The Ratkovich company and real estate developer AIS Global is adding over 1000 units of housing to be built on Mission and Fremont. Yet our electrical grid is overloaded, our sewer system is discharging into our rivers and our traffic is gridlocked. Why is the city allowing more and more mega developments to be built before our infrastructure is fixed? This is not smart growth.

    1. So basically Gale the sky is falling. Alhambra is doing fine. And keep in mind, you create your own reality.

  2. Our own Flint, Michigan fiasco!!!Who was responsible for this mess and why is’nt anyone being held responsible? Oh, well, the city will pay the fine, causing damage to other city services;cutting back budgets. A few years ago, in the Joslyn Senior Citizen Center, a wall clock fell, breaking. The Senior Citizen Center was unable to pasy for a replacement because “they did not have money.” One person donated another clock. So now with the city paying this hefty fine, we can expect that Seniors will have to supply their own toilet paper because of the city having to use our tax dollars for this blunder – “the watchman is asleep in his duty.”Am I pissed off? Heck YES!!!

  3. I would think that the company with which the city contracted for the work would be responsible if it made the error. I do not understand why the city has to pay the fine. Maybe someone can enlighten me.

    1. As you read…the city will comply and pay the fine…with our tax dollars because of somebody’s blunder; anyway no city official will have to pay out of their pockets, so it seems ok for city officials to say “we’ll pay the fine.”Whatever happened to responsibility to hold the person/people/department responsible for this stupidity?

  4. Wow, the level of incompetence here seems incomprehensible.
    How is no fired after 6 millions gallons of raw sewage?