The former general manager of Bay Minette Utilities pleaded guilty this week in federal court to lying on a state environmental form about raw sewage discharges into Hollinger's Creek in Bay Minette, Ala.
Harry Still, Jr., former manager of the Bay Minette Public Utility Board, pleaded guilty on Dec. 1 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, in Mobile, to violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) by falsifying a discharge monitoring report filed with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Anderson contends that during heavy rainfalls, raw sewage poured from an illegal pipe attached to a waste containment unit upstream of a treatment plant named for Still's late father, who was an administrator for the board and well-known Bay Minette politician.
The pipe allowed the system to dump sewage well before it ever reached the treatment plant. They believe it was used primarily when stormwater coming through the sewage pipes threatened to push more water into the treatment facility than it could easily handle.
The Harry Still, Sr., Wastewater Treatment Plant is located near Mobile, Ala. From March 1 to March 31, 2004, Still, Jr., reported that the minimum pH, maximum nitrogen and maximum ammonia concentrations in effluent from the plant was within the limits of the plant’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit, when in fact the effluent was out of compliance.
The investigation was initiated after it was discovered that the Bay Minette Utilities Board had failed to report the discharge of millions of gallons of untreated sewage into Hollinger’s Creek through a discharge pipe that dated from the 1940s and was never removed after the passage of the CWA.
False reporting on discharge monitoring reports makes it very difficult for regulators to determine if surface waters are being properly protected.
The case was investigated by the Jackson, Miss., Office of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, the EPA Office of Inspector General and the Alabama Attorney General’s Investigations Division with assistance from EPA Region 4.
It is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney’s office in Mobile with prosecutorial assistance being provided by the Alabama attorney general’s office and Criminal Enforcement Counsel from EPA Region 4.