Truckee’s Northstar developer faces record water fine of $2.75M
A Northstar developer is facing $2.75 million in fines for a series of water quality violations during the construction of a resort in 2006.
The proposed settlement between Northstar Mountain Properties and the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board is the largest settlement ever reached by the water board for compliance enforcement, according to the state water board’s Web site.
If approved by board members at their July 23-24 meeting at Truckee Town Hall, a portion of the settlement would go to environmental projects in the recently preserved Waddle Ranch in the Martis Valley.
Northstar first started running into trouble in 2004, when the water board temporarily halted construction on the village area of the resort, said Chuck Curtis, supervising engineer with the board.
“They made some progress, but in 2006 they had a very significant amount of construction. Eleven separate projects were in violation of their stormwater pollution prevention plan,” Curtis said.
Areas where violations occurred included the village, parking lots, employee housing and Highlands Drive, Curtis said.
“There were some discharges, but we were fortunate that it was a relatively low water year,” Curtis said. “It could have been worse.”
Blake Riva, managing partner with East West Partners, said they tried to fit too much construction into a short construction season.
Northstar Mountain Properties is managed by East West Partners for development at Northstar, Riva said.
The $2.75 million settlement pertains specifically to those 2006 violations, Curtis said, and things have been improving at Northstar since then.
“They made a very significant shift in the 2007 season through current construction. There have essentially been no violations,” Curtis said. “It’s a huge turnaround.”
Riva attributed this to taking on less construction in a season and putting better systems in place to prevent water quality issues.
If approved, $600,000 of the settlement would go to the State Water Board, and $2.15 million would go to environmental work in the 1,467-acre Waddle Ranch, preserved last year by the Truckee Donner Land Trust, Curtis said.
“This funding will let us do fantastic and needed restoration,” said Perry Norris, executive director of the Truckee Donner Land Trust. “Waddle has the opportunity to be a demonstration forest and watershed to show how to marry protecting a watershed and managing a forest.”
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