Apr 06, 2021

Former Sioux City, Iowa, Wastewater Treatment Plant Superintendent Sentenced to Federal Prison for Clean Water Act Violations

A former Sioux City Wastewater Treatment Plant superintendent was sentenced to federal prison for Clean Water Act violations

federal prison

Former superintendent of Iowa's Sioux City Wastewater Treatment Plant who pleaded guilty to cheating on environmental testing at the plant was sentenced to three months in federal prison. The Sioux City Wastewater Treatment Plant is a large regional sewage treatment plant for wastewater from industrial, commercial, and residential sources throughout Siouxland, Iowa.

According to KTIV News, Jay Earnest Niday received the prison term after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of knowingly falsifying, tampering with and rendering inaccurate a monitoring device or method. These actions are violations of the Clean Water Act.

In addition to the three months in federal prison, Niday must pay $6,000 in fines and also repay $2,500 in court-appointed attorney fees, reported KTIV News. Once he is released he must serve a two-year term of supervised release.

Under a Clean Water Act permit, the plant was required to treat wastewater before discharging it into the Missouri River. Based on the evidence at Niday’s guilty plea and sentencing hearings, the plant treated its wastewater with liquid chlorine, which kills bacteria but is potentially toxic to aquatic life, reported KTIV News. 

Between Mar. 15 and Nov. 15 each year, the plant was required to disinfect its wastewater to remove potentially dangerous human pathogens. The plant's permit required it to periodically test its wastewater not only for the presence of E. coli, but also total residual chlorine levels, to ensure the Missouri River was not polluted, according to KTIV News.

Beginning in 2011 and continuing until at least June 2015, court documents show Niday and others knowingly withheld from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources problems with the plant's new treatment process, known, the MLE process, reported KTIV News. Niday and his co-conspirators employed a fraudulent testing procedure that ensured the plant would always pass its tests for E. coli and residual chlorine levels.

Read related content about the Clean Water Act: