Escaping water from a bladder used to store water for fire protection has fouled nearby land and run into the Upper Main Eel River in Mendocino County.

As a result, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board reports it has fined the property owners where the bladder was kept more than $37,000.

Penalty for violation of the Clean Water Act was assessed against Polly Franklin as trustee of the trust that owns the property, and Daniel Franklin as the person responsible for activities that occurred on the property resulting in the unauthorized discharge, the board stated.

The board stated water was stored in a 50,000-gallon bladder which was overfilled and burst. The water traveled 2,000 feet downstream, tearing out riparian vegetation, stripping away instream soil, rocks and boulders, and eventually entering the Upper Main Eel River.

Staff stated bladders are widely available and commonly used to store water. “However, many bladders are not specifically designed to hold water, have a limited service life, and are susceptible to failure due to overfilling or puncture by external causes.”