News Briefs: Former Wastewater Director Faces Grand Theft Charges

In this week's water and wastewater news, a former wastewater director allegedly stole $60K in copper wire, a federal appeals court halts the Water of the US Rule, and DC Water unveils its waste-to-energy project.
News Briefs: Former Wastewater Director Faces Grand Theft Charges

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A former executive director of the South Central Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant, which serves Boynton Beach and Delray Beach, Florida, is facing grand theft charges. According to an audit by the Office of Inspector General, Dennis Coates, 46, allegedly took $5,000 in duplicate pension pay, $3,000 in sick pay, $42,000 in overtime payments and stole $60,000 in copper wire from the treatment plant. Investigators discovered the copper wire was sold to two scrapyards.

“Definitely taxpayer money was wasted because we didn’t have the proper oversight and controls in place,” said John Carey, Palm Beach County Inspector General, in a CBS12 report.

The Inspector General’s office was alerted to the fraud when wastewater plant employees came forward.

“I’m satisfied that our system of justice works,” said Carey in the report. “This shows that when citizens come forward, government employees come forward who identify fraud, waste and abuse, that action is taken.”

Coates has turned himself into the Palm Beach County Jail. He is free on bond and has entered a not guilty plea.

Source: CBS 12

EPA Water Rule Suspended, For Now

A federal appeals court has suspended the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the U.S. Rule, stating the agency didn’t seek proper public comment. Those criticizing the rule have said the rule would give the EPA unnecessary control over irrigation ditches, canals and small streams. Eighteen states had challenged the rule in court.

According to a report on The Hill, more than 30 states have called the rule an “overreach of federal power.”

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the nationwide stay with a 2-1 decision.

Under the current, less-intrusive rule, EPA regulations apply only to navigable waters. The hotly debated Waters of the U.S. Rule would increase that regulation to all waters within 4,000 feet of navigable water, which critics say would give the EPA authority over water that was never intended to be part of the Clean Water Act.

“A stay temporarily silences the whirlwind of confusion that springs from uncertainty about the requirements of the new rule and whether they will survive legal testing,” said Judge David McKeauge in the majority opinion.

Source: Washington Times, The Hill

DC Water Unveils Waste-to-Energy Project

DC Water unveiled its $470 million waste-to-energy project, which is producing a net 10 megawatts of electricity from the wastewater treatment process.

The facilities include a dewatering building, 32 thermal hydrolysis vessels, four concrete 80-foot-high anaerobic digesters that hold 3.8 million gallons of solids each and three turbines the size of jet engines.

The project, which broke ground in 2011, uses the CAMBI thermal hydrolysis process — the first installation of its kind in North America. Thermal hydrolysis uses high heat and pressure to “pressure cook” solids, which weakens the solids’ cell walls and the structure between cells to make the energy easily accessible during anaerobic digestion. Methane is then captured and fed to three large turbines to produce electricity. Steam is also captured and directed back into the process.

The process creates Class A biosolids, which DC Water uses as a compost-like material for urban gardens and green infrastructure projects.

DC Water selected PC/CDM Joint Venture, which brings together the industry-leading expertise in water treatment facility design and construction of PC Construction and CDM Smith.

Source: Press release 


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