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Magic Mountain hit with water fines

Water board levies $57K in penalties for 22 violations found over 12 months

Posted: October 12, 2010 10:34 p.m.
Updated: October 13, 2010 4:30 a.m.

State water officials have fined Magic Mountain $57,000 for contaminants in storm-water runoff that was released into the Santa Clara River.

The latest fine, issued in July by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, pushes Magic Mountain LLC’s bill to well over $1 million in the last two years.

“This is water that has no contact with any of our guests or any of our employees,” said Tim Burkhart, vice president of Magic Mountain, noting it was water tested at the end of a drainpipe.

“It is no different than any other storm-water discharge that you’re going to find anywhere in the city, anywhere in California.”

In the board’s Notice of Violation explaining its latest series of fines against Magic Mountain LLC, 22 samples of the park’s discharged water tested on 16 different days between January 2009 and January this year are characterized as being either “chronic” or “serious.”

The notice listed excessive amounts of fecal bacteria, e-coli, chloride, chlorine, copper, lead, oil and grease found last year in water discharged into the Santa Clara River.

Burkhart said the tested water includes everything ending up in the drain that washes off the rides, all vehicles and parking lots, all buildings, every fountain visited by pigeons and every inch of pavement walked by millions of visitors eating, spilling, spitting or unable to settle their stomachs after a particularly nauseating ride.

He said the park ran a DNA test on the fecal findings to make sure they weren’t human.

They were found to be from animals.

“I can guarantee there is no fecal coliform being discharged from the swimming pool — that’s not happening,” said Burkhart.

The water board offered Magic Mountain officials a chance to pay the $57,000, and by so doing, waive their right to a court hearing.

Park executives were advised that if the case was referred to the Attorney General’s Office for prosecution, they could wind up paying  $25,000 per violation.

Burkhart signed the agreement to pay $57,000.

The amusement parks at Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor have a network of drains that collect water in one main drainpipe at the back of the park, which “goes right into the river,” Burkhart said.

“That collects all of those typical things — irrigation, when we hose down our midways, like when you hose down your driveway, all of our swimming pools from the water park, the water rides we have — all of those types of things,” he explained.

“We don’t manufacture or produce things that generate waste that go into the river,” he added.

“Everything that you see on these (regional water board) reports that we’ve been fined are, again, no different than anything that washes down the sidewalk in the street, anywhere in town.”


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