The state of Iowa is suing Sioux City for misleading state officials about the results of water pollution tests.
The lawsuit claims that the city’s wastewater treatment facilities only disinfected the water when they knew samples would be taken by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The state is asking the court to award $ 5,000 for each day the plants violate water quality rules. They allege that the practice continued for approximately three years, from March 2012 to June 2015.
“The city has potentially endangered lives and wildlife by violating water quality rules and committing fraud to cover up the actions of its employees,” said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller .
The lawsuit also seeks a permanent injunction preventing the city from further violating state water quality laws. According to the lawsuit, the city continues to defy permit limits for ammonia and chlorine levels.
The former superintendent and supervisor of the wastewater treatment plant has previously been convicted of falsifying test results, punishable by fines of up to $ 5,000 and several months in jail.
The document suggests that the city’s processing directorate and other city officials discovered that the processing facility was not functioning properly, but chose not to disclose it to MNR. Instead, they started performing fraudulent tests.
“Cheating on required environmental tests has given the city an unfair advantage in this competition to attract business and industry among other municipalities,” the lawsuit alleges.
A federal investigation into the plant began in 2016. The lawsuit claims the plant continued to violate water quality expectations, releasing excessive amounts of chlorine until August 2021.