Negotiators for the Ojai Valley Sanitary District and Friends of the Ventura River have agreed to settle a lawsuit claiming that repair work sought by the sewer agency would ecologically damage nearby San Antonio Creek.
The agreement, reached late Monday but announced Tuesday, calls for the district to perform more extensive environmental reviews of the flood control work before contractors start the work.
The deal also calls for the sanitary district to plant six trees along the stretch of creek and pay Friends of the River $3,500 in attorney fees.
"It was a good deal in that it allows us to progress with a very important repair job," said Eric J. Oltmann, general manager of the Ojai Valley Sanitary District.
The lawsuit "brought a very important project to a grinding halt," he said. "There was a chance of more erosion that could have resulted in an eruption or loss of the line.
"That could have led to a major spill," Oltmann said.
District engineers sought to shore up a portion of the creek's bank to protect a 300-foot section of the main sewer trunk that carries 1 million gallons of waste water from Ojai to the treatment plant every day.
But members of Friends of the Ventura River claimed in the suit that the project would have removed environmentally sensitive vegetation along the riverside and potentially damaged the ecological balance of the watershed.