State water regulators have issued a more than $400,000 fine against a Sonoma County water agency over the release of more than two million gallons of sewage last year.
This week, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District agreed to the financial settlement over one of the district's largest sewage spills in recent memory.
"The fine sends the message to other Bay Area wastewater agencies that they need to be proactive about taking steps to prevent spills of this magnitude from their systems," said Sejal Choksi-Chugh, executive director of San Francisco Baykeeper.
The release of partially treated wastewater from a district water recycling plant began the afternoon of Jan. 11, 2019. District crews discovered the problem the following morning. The release lasted more than 21 hours.
Early on, Sonoma Water officials, who manage the district, acknowledged that the spill was caused by a faulty valve. The problem sent sewage backward in a pipeline that handles waste from homes and businesses in the Sonoma Valley.