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San Diego Water Board fines Pardee Homes $291,286 for Uncontrolled Sediment during Storms
Pardee Homes, the residential home building company, has been fined by the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board (SDWB) for numerous instances of uncontrolled sediment runoff at the 204-acre Castlerock Weston construction site near Santee in southern Diego County. The enforcement action contends that more than 70,000 gallons of sediment-laden stormwater was directed through Santee’s municipal storm separate sewer system to the environmentally sensitive Sycamore Canyon watershed and creek.
Chiara Clemente, the SDWB’s enforcement coordinator said that exposed dirt from construction activities poses a threat to local waters because it can wash off during a storm. Abnormally high levels of sediment in the water can smother aquatic animals and habitats. It can also reduce the clarity of water, which harms the ability of organisms to breath, find food and refuge and reproduce. Sediment is known to act as a binder, carrying toxic constituents, such as metals, pesticides and other synthetic organic chemicals with it to rivers, bays and the ocean. Excess sediment has been known to alter or obstruct flows and result in flooding thereby damaging local ecosystems.
“Pardee Homes, a significant developer with a long history of building homes in California, knows better and appeared to ignore both common sense and prudent sediment management practices by conducting significant grading during the 2016-2017 rainy season, resulting in catastrophic erosion and sediment run-off,” said Laurie Walsh, the San Diego Water Board’s storm water program manager. “This was in direct contradiction to a Storm Water Pollution Management Plan they had on file for this project.”
Multiple citations had been issued to Pardee Homes by the city of Santee and the city of San Diego for the sediment runoff at the Castlerock Weston construction site and the SDWB relied on the city’s inspection reports and photographs as some of their evidence in the matter. The SDWB worked closely with the two municipalities in collecting evidence in the case.
“When a developer grades a construction site that big all at once, they are assuming a higher risk of pollution because it becomes so much harder to implement sitewide pollution management practices,” said SDWB’s Clemente. “Taking a risk like that can end badly. In this case it resulted in discharges of sediment-laden water from the construction site on several occasions.”
Pardee Homes was founded in 1921 by George Pardee Sr. He and his three sons were part of the housing boom in Los Angeles following WWII. They expanded their footprint to southern Nevada in 1952, selling affordable homes to veterans for $1.00 down. They sold out in this first Las Vegas development in the opening weekend.
In 1969, Pardee Homes became a wholly owned subsidiary of Weyerhaeuser Corporation, one of five Weyerhaeuser companies under the Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company (WRECO) division. In July 2014 WRECO merged with Tri Pointe Homes now called the TRI Pointe Group, Inc.