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Orange County Coastkeeper, The Ridland Group, and the City of San Juan Capistrano have reached an agreement to address the water quality concerns of Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park (Riding Park) while allowing equestrian events to continue throughout the 2024 season. The Riding Park did not host any equestrian events in May due to the responsible parties’ failure to bring the facility into compliance with the Clean Water Act by the agreed-upon April 15, 2024 deadline. The Riding Park is adjacent to San Juan Creek, an important waterway for aquatic habitat which empties into the popular Doheny State Beach.

“Ultimately, we aim to be a voice for San Juan Creek and protect it from pollution, which meant enforcing the terms of our Consent Decree,” said Sarah Spinuzzi, legal director of Orange County Coastkeeper. “I’m glad we’ve been able to correct course and work alongside The Ridland Group to create a path towards Clean Water Act compliance. This agreement is a win-win for the community as it will allow local equestrian events to continue while providing the highest level of protection for San Juan Creek and Doheny State Beach.”

Approved by the Central District Court of California, the agreement sets clear project milestones and penalties for non-compliance. By June 3, 2024, the Riding Park had to be re-graded to ensure stormwater from equestrian stabling areas would be retained on-site and not discharged into San Juan Creek. Orange County Coastkeeper staff visited the site on June 4 and confirmed the work was completed.

The re-grading is an interim solution for hosting equestrian events in 2024 while ensuring Clean Water Act and Consent Decree compliance. By the end of 2024, The Ridland Group must create a comprehensive stormwater control plan involving infiltration systems and further grading. Penalties within the agreement include canceling all 2025 equestrian events if stormwater infrastructure is not installed by the end of 2024 and a $50,000 per day penalty for any discharges into San Juan Creek. For full agreement terms, click here.