It's encouraging that the Crescent City and Albers Seafoods agreed to share the cost of paying $48,000 in state water pollution fines. Both sides during the past several weeks sparred over who would pay the penalties for the harbor's wastewater treatment plant's discharging of seafood materials into the ocean. The disagreement got so bad that the harbor threatened to close the plant by month's end while Albers declared it would relocate.
The deal reached represents a reasonable compromise. Both parties are accepting some responsibility for the problem. The community also won't lose an important employer of about 100 area residents.
But the agreement finally does what both sides should have done all along: quit the posturing and jointly figure out a way to resolve this problem. After all, no matter which party is at fault, until some problem is fixed there's the risk of more pollution flowing into the ocean. If civic responsibility to our environment isn't motivation enough for resolving this issue, then certainly the possibility of additional fines should be.
What is most promising about the agreement, however, is that both the harbor and Albers asked that the fine payment be diverted to help pay for an engineering study for figuring out why the water treatment plant keeps violating state water quality standards. This move shows not only a cooperative spirit but an effort to address the real problem at hand.
Decisions to divert fine funds rests in the hands of the California Regional Water Control Board. Allowing the majority of the money to be diverted certainly makes sense in this case. While the board needs to keep some of the fine money to cover the costs of inspections that determined violations occurred, certainly what was levied far exceeds that price tag. Further, the money actually would go to a good use: trying to stop the pollution of coastal waters. Rather than the state pocketing the extra fine money, resolving the issue would accomplish what the water control board really wants: a clean coast line. Certainly that's also in this community's best interests.
Reconciliation, cooperation and working toward solutions - it sounds like a winning combination to us.