Sioux City Wastewater Supervisor pleads guilty to hiding illegal discharges

Iowa has not see a great deal of criminal environmental enforcement at either the federal or state level.  Nationally, EPA’s civil enforcement under the current administration is down to levels never seen in recent history (by the size of penalties).  As an attorney involved in representing industry I can attest to the drop in enforcement actions during the last two years. However, yesterday’s guilty plea by Patrick Schwarte that he had conspired to manipulate waster sample test results to fake compliance with discharge limits under federal law was pursued by the Department of Justice, acting on a tip to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.  The case also predates the 2016 election. Both Mr. Schwarte and his boss Mr. Jay Niday were fired in 2015 after the faked test results were discovered. Mr. Schwarte faces seven years in the federal prison system and a fine of up to $260,000. It is unclear if this is a holdover from the previous administration’s efforts to enforce compliance or if this case is intended to send a message from the current administration. Both municipal and industrial wastewater operators do need to make sure that their operations are strictly above-board and in compliance with the law.


About James Pray

Attorney with BrownWinick Law Firm in Des Moines, Iowa.
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