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.
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.