Northstar developer is facing a record water-quality fine
A developer at Northstar is facing $2.75 million in fines for a series of water-quality violations during the construction of the resort’s village 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 related to water-compliance enforcement, according to the state water board’s Web site.
Northstar Mountain Properties is managed by East West Partners for development at Northstar, according to Blake Riva, managing partner with East West Partners.
If approved by the board at a July 23-24 meeting, a portion of the settlement would go to environmental projects in the recently preserved Waddle Ranch property in the Martis Valley.
Northstar Mountain Properties first started running into trouble in 2004, when the Water Quality Control Board temporarily halted construction on the village, said Chuck Curtis, supervising engineer with Lahontan.
“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.”
East West Partners’ Riva said the company tried to fit too much construction into a short construction season.
The $2.75 million settlement pertains specifically to those 2006 violations, Curtis said, adding that efforts 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.
“I think we’ve made major improvements since then – 2006 was by far the most construction we’ve done – and that amount going forward is far less,” Riva said.
If approved by the board, $600,000 will go to the state water board, and $2.15 million will 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. “I think Waddle has the opportunity to be a demonstration forest and watershed to show how to marry protecting a watershed and managing a forest.”
Norris said Integrated Environmental Restoration Services, a consultant hired for the work in Waddle Ranch, will assess issues on the property, working from the top down to reduce erosion and debris.
Two guidebooks also will be produced for managing watersheds and reducing fuels on forest properties, Curtis said.