SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — The country’s biggest mushroom grower, located in the Bay Area, just agreed to pay $2.24 million in what has become Santa Clara’s largest water pollution lawsuit.
In video provided by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, brown, murky water is seen dumping into Fisher Creek. That polluted water, the district attorney said, is from Monterey Mushrooms, Inc.READ MORE: California Health Officials 'Closely Monitoring' New COVID Omicron Variant
Fisher Creek flows into Coyote Creek before it goes into the San Francisco Bay. In 2017, Coyote Creek crested and then flooded into homes in San Jose after heavy rains.
“We had no warning the flood was coming,” said Brian Rodriguez. His home had several feet of water and took months to rebuild.
“Making sure that your house was clean from mold and bacteria, and that required lots of testing, and lots of clean up and working with specialists,” said Rodriguez.
While many were warned the water was toxic from debris, Rodriguez is now learning some of the pollution in the water that seeped into his home was preventable.READ MORE: 7-Foot Tall LEGO Menorah to Feature at Alameda Hanukkah Celebration
“I wonder where the oversight is,” he said. “Enforce violations that are making the watershed unsafe, I mean, regardless of flooding I don’t think it’s good to pollute our waterways.”
The district attorney said Monterey Mushrooms intentionally dumped hundreds of gallons of toxic wastewater from horse stable hay and poultry manure because it was free, despite repeated orders to clean up from the Regional Water Quality Board dating back to 1985.
According to the district attorney, the company also stored large piles of compost close to Fisher Creek, which allowed harmful chemicals and organic matter into the stream.
Investigators said Monterey Mushrooms only began to clean up its act after the district attorney began its investigation into the company’s practices.
Monterey Mushrooms has spent nearly $2.75 million in facility improvements and, as part of the settlement, has agreed to a five year injunction with training, testing and oversight conditions, according to a press release.
The spokesperson for the company told the Mercury News that the incidents were not intentional and that they were “shocked” and “disappointed” by the lawsuit.MORE NEWS: Firefighters Extinguish 2 RVs on Fire in West Oakland
“I think you need to have respect for your neighbors,” Rodriguez said. “I think you need to have respect for the environment.”