After two years of negotiations, Encinitas has agreed to pay the full $430,851 state fine for twice letting sediment-filled stormwater flow off a city park construction site and into San Elijo Lagoon, state officials announced Thursday.The reason the board is treating Encinitas more harshly than usual? Accidents happen, but in this case the city showed complete negligence and disregard for the law and the lagoon for an extended period of time:
Under the terms of the tentative settlement agreement, the city will pay the full fine, but nearly half of the money — $206,393 — will be diverted to a San Elijo Lagoon habitat restoration project, said Rebecca Stewart, a sanitary engineering associate with the San Diego office of the state’s Regional Water Quality Control Board.
Stewart said it isn’t unusual for a settlement agreement to include funding for a local habitat restoration project. The lengthy negotiations also were “typical,” she said. What is unusual is that the city will pay the full fine amount — the state did not agree to reduce the fine that it initially recommended two years ago, she said.
An official with the Water Quality Control Board said the fine is so large because the problem happened twice and because Encinitas failed to significantly improve stormwater control measures between the first and second runoff incidents.As is customary at the City of Encinitas, no one has been held accountable for the violations as far as the public can see.
“I’m sure they were disappointed (in the fine) — everyone’s disappointed at the penalties that are sent out,” said Rebecca Stewart, a sanitary engineering associate with the state agency.