Thursday, April 17, 2003

Water official admits lying

By William A. Weathers
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The former superintendent of the wastewater and drinking water treatment plants for the village of Mount Orab in Brown County pleaded guilty Tuesday to lying about the quality of the water in reports to state officials.

Fred Kirker, 63, also pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to discharging wastewater into Snapping Turtle Creek that contained unlawful levels of fecal coliform bacteria, said U.S. Attorney Gregory G. Lockhart.

Both crimes are felonies. Kirker faces up to eight years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

"As investigators and prosecutors, we have no more important duty than to bring justice to those who endanger the wholesomeness of our drinking water and the wastewater we discharge to the environment," Lockhart said.

According to the U.S. attorney, Kirker was responsible for having samples of wastewater and drinking water analyzed and submitting monthly operating reports of the tests to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

The test samples are required to meet limits set in permits granted by the Ohio EPA.

Kirker is charged with reporting fictitious levels of fecal coliform - bacteria from human and animal waste - discharged into Snapping Turtle Run. Sometimes he changed results of samples and sometimes he made up figures because samples were not taken.

After Kirker's conduct was discovered, Mount Orab closed its drinking water plant and bought water for its users from Brown County.

He is expected to be sentenced by Judge S. Arthur Spiegel within 70 days.


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