News Feature | November 29, 2013

Water Manager Could Do Hard Time For Lying On Discharge Monitoring Reports

By Sara Jerome

EnvironmentalProtection

A key court date is approaching in the case of a former Hays, KS water manager who allegedly violated the Clean Water Act.

Prosecutors allege Charles Blair "made false statements in discharge monitoring reports. The government also contends he lied to agents of the EPA when he said he had provided accurate levels for the report," the Associated Press reported

Allegedly, Blair lied about the level of nitrogen discharged by the city this year. He has a court date on Dec. 2 to announce his plea to the court. 

The charges went all the way up to the U.S. attorney's office. A four-count federal indictment "accuses 57-year-old Charles Blair with making false statements about nitrogen levels in effluent at the city’s wastewater treatment plant," the Associated Press said in a previous report

If found guilty, Blair could face serious penalties. He is looking at "a maximum penalty of two years in federal prison and a fine up to $10,000 on each of the first three counts and a maximum penalty of five years and a fine up to $250,000 on the fourth count," the Hays Post reported

Under the Clean Water Act, the EPA issues permits to regulate pollution discharge from sources such as wastewater treatment facilities. 

The agency inspects facilities to make sure they are complying. Inspections involve the completion of discharge monitoring reports, the documentation that Blair allegedly falsified. 

Falsifying federal documents is risky business. For instance, Donald Clark of Niota, TN was indicted two years ago for creating false documents for the city's sewage treatment plant. He pled guilty. 

"The falsifications were intended to cover up Clark’s failure to properly operate the sewage treatment plant’s chlorination system, designed to disinfect the wastewater prior to its discharge to Little North Mouse Creek, a tributary of the Hiwassee River," the government said. Clark had been a plant operator for over 14 years. 

He was sentenced to "six months in prison and another six months of home confinement with an electronic monitoring device. He must also perform 150 hours of community service," according to the Chattanoogan

Back In August, the operator of an environmental laboratory was sentenced to 40 months in prison for "faking laboratory testing results and lying to federal investigators," according to the Justice Department.

For more EPA coverage from Water Online, click here.

Image credit: "Environmental Protection Agency & Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium," © 2009 cliff1066™, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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