California sewage treatment operator sentenced in state court

The general manager of the Clearlake Oaks County Water District was sentenced to jail time and fined on four misdemeanor counts of violating state water pollution laws.


Sept. 16, 2003 -- Timothy Bradley, general manager of the Clearlake Oaks County Water District, of Clearlake Oaks, Calif., was sentenced on Aug. 22, to four months in jail and was ordered to pay a $54,000 fine by the Lake County Superior Court in California for his conviction on four misdemeanor counts of violating state water pollution laws.

On Feb. 12, 1999, Bradley's employees told him the Clearlake Oaks water treatment plant was discharging untreated sewage into Clear Lake and recommended he shut down the plant's pumps and bring in pumper trucks. Bradley decided to not take any action, instead he waited until after the weekend and conducted a dye test on Feb. 16. After the test, he then took action to correct the problem.

Trial testimony indicated at least one-half million gallons of raw sewage entered the lake over the weekend and fecal coliform readings, taken from Everglade Canal during repairs, were 30,000 parts per 100 ml. Normal background levels in the lake are between 10 and 100 parts per ml.

Discharging raw sewage into surface waters can harm fish and other aquatic life and can make the waters unsafe for recreational and drinking water purposes.

The case was investigated by the San Francisco Area Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and was prosecuted by the Lake County District Attorney's Office.

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