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[whitespace] Local resort settles suit stemming from chlorine spill

Saratoga--Saratoga Springs, a picnic and campground resort, recently pleaded guilty in Santa Clara County Superior Court to charges stemming from a chlorine spill in Booker Creek last summer.

The resort will pay the state $23,000 in fines and damages for negligently discharging a pollutant in state waters.

After a chlorine spill killed some 500 rainbow trout in Booker and Saratoga creeks, California Department of Fish and Game officials traced the chemical to a swimming pool storage shed at Saratoga Springs. The Saratoga Springs staff had initially alerted state officials to the dead fish.

Although the resort suffered a financial blow as a result of the corrective and punitive measures, Manager Brad Giannini says he's relieved to have the issue resolved.

Giannini blames the contamination on a contractor who placed the storage shed's drain pipe out into the stream bank along Booker Creek. When chlorine accidentally spilled in the shed last July, it drained down the bank and into the stream. The chemical eventually made its way into Saratoga Creek, which meets Booker near the Saratoga Springs property.

Most of the dead fish had been stocked by Saratoga Springs staff to allow visitors to do some angling in the creek

"The creek's one of our best features," said Giannini, adding that when companies came to picnic at Saratoga Springs they often bought fishing rights for trout.

Since the chlorine spill, however, Saratoga Springs has not been allowed to restock its fishing holes. The Springs had used fish grown on farms and Giannini says the state is trying to weed out those populations, in the hopes that area streams will eventually be filled by wild strains of trout.
Oakley Brooks

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