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Santa Barbara County Prosecutors Say Utility Company Enters Guilty Pleas Over Damage To Creek

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Santa Barbara County prosecutors say they've reached a settlement with a utility company over lawsuits stemming from a grading project which caused some serious environmental damage.

Prosecutors say Southern California Edison did unpermitted road work in the foothills above Santa Barbara, in the Mission Canyon area.  The work included removing rock along a road, grading, and removing plants.

They say the end result was the discharge of more than 960,000 gallons of rock, sediment, and debris into Mission Creek, and its tributaries.  Prosecutors claim that the work permanently impacted the creek, altering the stream bed and obstructing the water flow.

The utility agreed to a settlement to criminal and civil charges stemming from the unauthorized work.  It worked under Santa Barbara County's supervision on some repair projects, and agreed to pay $3.5 million dollars in fines and restitution.