Polluted Runoff from the South Mountain Oil Field

  • Goal: To eliminate illegal storm water discharges into the Santa Clara River and Calleguas Creek Watersheds to protect fish, wildlife, and human health
  • Year Started: 2015
  • Clients: Environmental Defense Center


For at least five years, California Resources Production Corporation (CRPC) (formerly Vintage Production California LLC) consistently reported storm water runoff containing pollutants at levels that exceeded legal limits at its South Mountain oil field. CRPC conducts oil exploration and development activities at this 5,757-acre facility located near the City of Santa Paula. The property’s storm water runoff drains to the Santa Clara River and Calleguas Creek watershed, posing risks for water quality, wildlife, and human health.

After filing a lawsuit for violations of the Clean Water Act, EDC successfully negotiated a settlement requiring CRPC to implement controls at its drilling pads, access roads, and other pollution sources to reduce the contaminants in its runoff. Storm water runoff from the oil field drains into the Santa Clara River and Calleguas Creek watershed, and eventually runs onto popular public beaches. Storm water is among the top sources of water contamination in southern California, as significant quantities of pollution enter our waterways during rain events. Oil field operations such as those conducted at the South Mountain oil field, including operation of miles of unpaved roads, well drilling, well completion and stimulation (including hydraulic fracturing and acid well stimulation production), and equipment maintenance, commonly discharge a wide range of conventional and hazardous pollutants, including total suspended solids, oil and grease, pH, benzene, lead, arsenic, chlorides, and ethanol xylenes. The adverse impacts of these pollutants on water quality can pose risks to fish and other aquatic organisms, wildlife, and human health. This settlement also helps facilitate a transfer of CRPC property rights at the Canada Larga Property to be acquired by Trust for Public Land for permanent conservation, thereby eliminating potential new oil development.

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