Bar Exams in the Pandemic JURIST Digital Scholars
Pittsburgh water authority pleads guilty to pollution breach of federal Clean Water Act
Roselie / Pixabay
Pittsburgh water authority pleads guilty to pollution breach of federal Clean Water Act

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewage Authority (PWSA) pleaded guilty Wednesday to eight federal charges for violating the Clean Water Act. The charges include one count of violating the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System by discharging sludge into the Allegheny River, one of three major American rivers that meet at Pittsburgh.

US Attorney Scott Brady announced the criminal charges against PWSA, including seven counts of lying on written reports to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Brady stated that PWSA dumped sludge into the river from the Aspinwall treatment facility for seven years. The pollution and false statements occurred between 2010 and 2017. Under the terms of the plea agreement, PWSA must “adhere to the terms of a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Program to correct the violations of federal law and to prevent further unlawful pollution of the Allegheny River.” The agreement also ordered PWSA to pay $500,000 into a self-funded compliance program, and the authority will spend three years on probation.

In a related indictment, former Aspinwall Drinking Treatment Plant supervisor Glenn Lijewski was charged with conspiracy to violate the Clean Water Act and two counts of violating PWSA’s pollutant discharge permit. According to the indictment, Lijewski was “directly responsible for the unauthorized discharge of clarifier sludge into the Allegheny River.” The indictment further alleges that he “directed other plant employees to discharge sludge into the river” and “to use estimates sludge flow numbers instead of actual numbers.”

In a statement, PWSA said the authority “has fully cooperated” with the Department of Justice and the EPA. The authority added that “[b]oth compliance issued raised in the investigation have been rectified and had no impact on the quality or safety of the drinking water.”