The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is proposing a $4.9 million fine against a luxury resort developer for allegedly discharging six million gallons of highly turbid water into a Healdsburg creek and other Russian River tributaries.
The administrative complaint alleges Sonoma Luxury Resort LLC committed 38 violations of the federal Clean Water Act. The apparent excessive releases of sediment-laden storm water runoff from the luxury development threatened to smother valuable salmon populations and habitat and altered or obstructed flows that could lead to flooding and reduce water quality.
Sonoma Luxury Resort LLC's 258-acre Saggio Hills development in the hills north of Healdsburg includes a 130-room hotel resort, 37 acres for a park and fire substation, 13.3 acres for 150 units of affordable housing and 22 acres for privately-owned homes within a 142-acre private open space.
Site construction began in May 2016 and completion is anticipated in November 2021.
"There were substantial impacts to water quality, and the proposed fine reflects those impacts," Claudia Villacorta, assistant executive officer for the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, said in a statement.
"Had the developer complied with the storm water permit, impacts to water quality and our subsequent enforcement actions could have been avoided," Villacorta said.
The North Coast Water Board's public hearing on the complaint is scheduled for April 16-17 in Humboldt County. Sonoma Luxury Resort LLC has the option of paying the $4.9 million penalty, proposing a settlement or supplemental environmental project or contesting the penalty at the hearing, Villacorta said.