State Water Officials Levy $6.4M Fine Against Healdsburg Luxury Resort

The company behind a luxury resort and residential project near Healdsburg is facing a $6.4 million fine over dozens of alleged water quality violations involving streams that feed into the Russian River, according to state water officials.

Sonoma Luxury Resort LLC, the company behind the Montage Healdsburg resort – formerly called Saggio Hills – is alleged to have violated state and federal water rules 38 times in 2018 and 2019 and to have discharged “9.4 million gallons of highly turbid water into Russian River tributaries,” according to officials with the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board

“This fine reflects the substantial violations found over a wide area after multiple storms,” Board Chairperson Valerie Quinto said in a news release Monday.

Investigators found that during construction, the company failed “to prevent or minimize pollutants from discharging off site, resulting in egregious violations over many months and threatening the well-being of salmon populations,” according to the news release. 

Water Board officials first shut down work on the project in December 2018, after which the company made “modest improvements” to its construction practices, officials said. 

Work was again halted in February 2019, although “unauthorized discharges to waterways continued to occur from the site through May 2019 and after the developer removed best management practice from many active construction areas,” according to the Water Board, which approved the fine  last Thursday. 

The resort is described in Water Board documents as consisting of a 130-room hotel along with housing, including some affordable housing, a public park, a fire substation and 142 acres of private open space on a 258-acre piece of land in the hills north of Healdsburg in unincorporated Sonoma County.

Representatives from Sonoma Luxury Resort LLC did not respond to a request for comment.

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