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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Crystal Mountain ski resort faces fines over parking-lot runoff

Snow from a 30-foot deep avalanche that wiped out a chairlift a day earlier remains behind  March 11, 2014, at Crystal Mountain, Wash. (Crystal Mountain Resort)
Associated Press

SEATTLE – A western Washington ski resort must control stormwater runoff from parking lots by Oct. 31 or face daily fines, according to a federal judge’s order.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik in a ruling on Tuesday said that Crystal Mountain ski resort “had knowingly and intentionally ignored its responsibilities,” the Seattle Times reported.

The ski resort about 80 miles southeast of Seattle had agreed to complete most of the work by Oct. 31, 2013, following a consent decree to settle a lawsuit brought by conservationists.

Conservationists said the ski resort has an impact on nearby Silver Creek, which supports salmon.

“I have been a skier at Crystal since I was a child, and this comes from a real concern of a place we all love,” said Darcy Thompson, spokeswoman for Crystal Conservation Coalition.

The coalition filed the lawsuit in 2006 contending the ski resort, the largest in the state, was violating the federal Clean Water Act.

Crystal Mountain built sewage-water-treatment facilities, but the lawsuit continued over runoff from parking lots and other hard surfaces into the creek.

The ski area in court filings in May argued that it had worked to protect water in Silver Creek and it should be declared in compliance with the agreement.

“All evidence supports that water quality in Silver Creek is being protected,” wrote Shawn Rediger, the defense attorney, in her brief.

But the judge ruled the ski resort failed to meet deadlines for improvements. Those included construction of low spots that help filter runoff and remove pollutants from parking lots.

Thompson said some of the work is done but four lots still need work.

The judge also said there wasn’t enough progress on improving riparian areas where tennis courts had been built.

“We are now well beyond any reasonable timeline for restoring those riparian areas,” Lasnik wrote.