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Builder Fined for Runoff

Costa Mesa's Standard Pacific Homes to pay $10,350 for wet cement that wound up at Crystal Cove.


A Costa Mesa-based home builder has been fined $10,350 for allegedly discharging 6,000 gallons of wet cement and other construction runoff across a popular state beach into the Pacific Ocean. The fine is the latest in a string of actions related to the fragile marine ecosystem off Crystal Cove State Park.

Standard Pacific Homes was fined by the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board for violating a storm-water-runoff permit.

"Standard Pacific Homes was the one that had the (runoff) permit from us. They're responsible for the construction activity on this project," said Kurt Berchtold, assistant executive officer of the water quality board.

Tom Olsen, the developer's project manager, did not return phone calls Tuesday.

The board was notified in September by a citizen who complained that sediment-laden water had been discharged for about 30 minutes from a box culvert located within the Crystal Cove Historical District. After a five-hour investigation, the Board determined the company had hosed down the streets at a new housing tract it owns at 23297 Sand Canyon Ave. in Newport Coast.

A subcontractor built a storm drain to hold the dirty water, and workers had planned to remove the water the following day. But workers who had blocked the drain with a brick and mortar bulkhead did not give the mortar enough time to dry. The bulkhead wall collapsed, sending 6,000 gallons of wet cement, wash water and sediment onto Crystal Cove State Beach, Berchtold said.

Last week, the board issued a cease and desist order to the Irvine Co., Caltrans, the state Dept. of Parks and Recreation and a school district over discharges into Crystal Cove. Pelican Hill Golf Course and contractors for Marriott Ownership Resorts, and the Irvine Co. have also been fined for discharges into the ocean off the park.

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