State fines E. & J. Gallo for sewage in Merced River
The California Water Agency ordered the wine giant from Modesto E. & J. Gallo Winery to pay $378,668 in fines for discharging irrigation and wastewater into the Merced River.
As reported by the press service of Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control BoardOn August 9, 2021, the discharge involved more than 90,000 gallons of sewage mixed with water from irrigation wells from a winery in Livingston.
A tip from a concerned citizen led to the council launching an investigation. Employees of the dispatching commission confirmed that the discharge had an increased level of organic substances, potassium and salinity.
These substances can pose a threat to the health of fish and other aquatic life.
“Protecting the water quality of our streams and rivers is one of the primary responsibilities of the regional board,” said board assistant executive director Clay Rogers in a release.
He added that “discharges like this put the health of our waterways at risk and the penalty reflects the seriousness of this offence. Gala also agreed to take measures to prevent this from happening again in the future.”
The penalty formula used by the control board calculates several factors, such as the estimated size of the discharge and its impact on water quality.
According to the release, additional check valves were installed at a specific location in the pipeline to prevent wastewater from flowing into the irrigation system toward the river.
Half of the $378,668 will be dedicated to an additional environmental project, according to the board.
The amount will pay for part of the toilet and septic tank relocation project Hagaman Park in Livingston.
The remaining $189,334 will be paid by Gallo into the state’s Water Treatment and Pollution Control Account, the release said.
The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is responsible for protesting water quality and ensuring beneficial uses, such as aquatic habitat and human health, for 11,350 miles of streams, 579,110 acres of lakes and the largest contiguous groundwater basin in California, according to the release.
This story was originally published February 6, 2023 6:01 p.m.
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