News Briefs: WWTP Operator Hospitalized After 20-Foot Fall

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, a treatment plant supervisor is charged with theft and a city mayor faces accusations of cronyism during the bid process for a water treatment facility

A worker was hospitalized after falling 20 feet into a cylinder container at the Upper Brays Wastewater Treatment Plant in West Houston, Texas.

A rescue operation that involved strapping the man to a basket and hoisting him out took around 40 minutes, according to ABC 13 News. Although he is reported to have survived the ordeal, the extent of the worker’s injuries haven’t been made public.

The Houston Fire Department posted a statement about the incident on Twitter:

WWTP Supervisor Arrested on Charges of Theft

A longtime wastewater treatment plant supervisor for the City of Bandon, Oregon, was arrested on theft and misconduct charges, according to Bandon Western World.

Police say William Nielson of Bandon was arrested on one count of first-degree theft, one count of second-degree theft, and two counts of official misconduct as a result of an ongoing investigation by the Bandon Police Department and Oregon State Police involving alleged thefts from the city.

Mayor Mary Schamehorn publicly thanked Nielson for 22 years' service in a statement given to Bandon Western World. “He has kept our aging wastewater plant running for years. He apparently made a mistake involving a riding lawnmower, but I cannot confirm it because the city manager has told the council absolutely nothing even after a very public arrest.”

Reporters Accuse Wichita's Mayor of Cronyism With Bidding for Treatment Plant

Recent allegations against Mayor Jeff Longwell of Wichita, Kansas, claim he played favorites during the bidding process for a new water treatment facility.

An article published in the Wichita Eagle accuses the mayor of cronyism with regards to the facility plans, but Longwell countered the accusations in this two-page statement, and he tells KAKE News he also has friends amongst the losing companies from the bidding process.

The Eagle’s reporters — after a months-long investigation — claim Longwell pressured the city council to award the contract to Wichita Water Partners despite being a smaller company with less experience than Jacobs Engineering, a competing bidder. Reporters also say the mayor held meetings with friends before major developments in the bidding process to offer them guidance.

EPA Claims San Francisco Homeless Camps Violate Clean Water Act

In part of an ongoing partisan battle between President Donald Trump and the state of California, the president’s administration recently claimed human waste from homeless camps in San Francisco are violating the Clean Water Act.

In a letter from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the EPA claims that “piles of human feces” on the streets are contaminating city waters.

Water experts like Steve Fleischli, senior director of water initiatives at the Natural Resources Defense Council, say that the EPA isn’t backing up its claims. “No self-respecting EPA scientist or regulatory staffer is going to claim there’s a direct connection between the homeless and the issues raised in that letter,” he tells Curbed San Francisco.

Read more about the highly publicized argument here.


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