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NEWS 1.7.21


The state of Iowa filed a lawsuit today in Woodbury County against the city of Sioux City saying it misled state officials by manipulating test results and sending polluted water into the Missouri River.

The suit claims the city engaged in a scheme to only disinfect wastewater on days testing took place from March of 2012 to June of 2015.

Attorney General Tom Miller says the city “potentially endangered human lives and wildlife.”

The former treatment plant supervisor Jay Niday pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and falsifying or providing inaccurate information and was sentenced in Federal Court last year to three months in prison and was fined $6,000. Former supervisor Patrick Schwarte pleaded guilty to similar charges and was sentenced to two years of probation and fined $5,000.

Full new release from the Iowa Attorney General:

DES MOINES -- The state of Iowa filed a lawsuit Friday against the city of Sioux City, alleging that it misled state officials by manipulating test results and discharging polluted water into the Missouri River.

The lawsuit alleges that for periods between March 15, 2012, through June 8, 2015, the city’s wastewater treatment facility would properly disinfect wastewater discharges only on days in which samples for E. coli contamination were taken and submitted to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The scheme was an attempt by the city to increase its treatment capacity without a significant capital investment, the lawsuit alleges.

“The city potentially endangered human lives and wildlife by violating water-quality rules and perpetrating a fraud to conceal its employees’ actions,” said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, who filed the lawsuit in Woodbury County on behalf of the state and the DNR.

The state asks the court to assess a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for each day of violation and issue a permanent injunction preventing the city from further violations of state law and its treatment permit. According to the lawsuit, the city continues to violate permit limits for ammonia and chlorine.

The state put its case on hold against Sioux City in 2016 while awaiting a federal investigation. Former treatment plant superintendent Jay Niday pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and falsifying or providing inaccurate information and was sentenced last year in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa to three months in prison and was fined $6,000. Former supervisor Patrick Schwarte pleaded guilty to similar charges and was sentenced to two years of probation and fined $5,000.

In April 2015, the DNR received an anonymous complaint about the city’s fraudulent testing procedures. The agency later discovered that the tip came from a pretreatment manager at the facility. The city continues to have difficulty with the plant and has discharged excessive amounts of total residual chlorine as recently as August 2021.

According to the lawsuit: Sioux City’s treatment plant uses a process in which it adds chlorine to disinfect wastewater discharges. If insufficiently disinfected, wastewaster effluent may expose recreational users of the river to various pathogens, including E. coli. Chlorine is toxic to fish and other aquatic life and dangerous to recreational users, so the treatment facility must subsequently add sodium bisulfite to reduce the total residual chlorine in the discharged water.

In about 2012, the city’s treatment facility management and other city officials discovered that the facility did not work properly and could not consistently disinfect the millions of gallons of wastewater that it was discharging into the Missouri River each day. Rather than alert the DNR to this serious problem, the facility employed a fraudulent testing procedure that ensured that it would always pass its effluent tests for fecal coliform, E. coli, and total residual chlorine.

The treatment plant was required to test the water five days in one calendar month during each 3-month period from March to November, resulting in a total of 15 days of testing. During those days, the facility would adjust the chlorine rate higher, but then significantly lower it on non-testing days.

At the same time, it was using the fraudulent testing procedure, the city was touting the effectiveness of its wastewater treatment system in an attempt to persuade the DNR to raise the facility’s capacity rating. That increase would allow the city to recruit more business and industry with high-strength wastewater.

“Cheating on required environmental tests gave the city an unfair advantage in this competition to attract business and industry among other municipalities,” the lawsuit alleges.

A cold storage company based in Florida wants to build a facility at the Southbridge Business Park in Sioux City.

Positive cases have surged in Iowa during the past week in Iowa with almost 25,000 new positive test results released today by the Iowa Department of Public Health. That is an increase of almost 5,900 since Wednesday. The positivity rate remains the same in Woodbury County at 14%.

COVID-19 update from the Sioux City Community School District:

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The Sioux City Journal reports the first phase of the project by Cold-Link Logistics will cost an estimated $60 million. Construction could start in March with completion early next year.

For more on the story click here:

Attending today’s event included State Senators, Jackie Smith, a Democrat, and Republican Jim Carlin and Representatives Chris Hall a Democrat, and Republican Jacob Bossman. Listen from the lawmakers during the next edition of The Exchange with host Mary Hartnett who attended today’s event.

Iowa lawmakers head back to the Statehouse in just a few days with tax cuts at the top of the agenda.

Republican lawmakers want to lower the individual income tax for individuals, not corporations.

Education is expected to be another hot topic, especially over what books are allowed in schools and giving parents more say on what is learned in class.

Nebraska also wants to cut taxes. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and a key legislative leader want to use $412 million in excess revenue the state has collected over the last year to accomplish that goal.

The plan does include lowering the state tax rate for residents and corporations and speeding up the implementation of a Social Security tax exemption that is set to go into effect in 2030.

A new report says long prison sentences and mandatory minimums are major contributors to Nebraska’s chronic prison overcrowding, but lawmakers still disagree over how to fix the problem. The report by the Crime and Justice Institute was requested by Nebraska lawmakers, Gov. Pete Ricketts and the courts to try to identify ways to reduce the state’s inmate population without compromising public safety. The report says Nebraska’s prison population increased 21% over the last decade, likely because of tough-on-crime policies. The institute also says low-level, non-violent felony sentences are often imposed consecutively, resulting in longer prison terms. Sen. Suzanne Geist, of Lincoln, says she's concerned that the report could lead to policies that jeopardize public safety.

South Dakota lawmakers have approved Gov. Kristi Noem’s new rule for medical abortions that make the state one of the hardest places in the U.S. to get abortion pills. The rule approved Thursday requires women to return to a doctor to receive the second of two drugs used to carry out a medication abortion. Usually, women receive both drugs in one visit, but take the second medication at home. Doctors and abortion rights advocates decried the rule as a dangerous intrusion on the relationship between doctors and patients. The Republican governor initiated the rules change in September through an executive order. A legislative committee tasked with reviewing the order approved it after initially pausing the rule's approval last month.

A Texas company that wants to build a pipeline to transport liquid carbon dioxide across the state has nearly concluded a series of informational, public meetings and plans to formally petition in May for permission to build it.

The estimated $3 billion project by Navigator CO2 Ventures would lay about 900 miles of steel pipe — ranging in diameter from 6 to 24 inches — in the soil of about a third of the state’s counties. Its main artery would bisect the state from northwest to southeast, and branches would stretch from it to ethanol and fertilizer plants.

The idea is to capture carbon dioxide waste from those plants and pump it deep into the ground in Illinois. In doing so, the Iowa Capital Dispatch reports those plants could also capture about $750 million annually in federal tax credits or perhaps significantly more if federal lawmakers increase the credit rate.

Navigator is not the recipient of those tax credits; it would be paid an unspecified amount of money by about 20 ethanol and fertilizer plants based on the terms of 10-year contracts.

Navigator plans to petition the three-member Iowa Utilities Board in May for a hazardous liquid pipeline permit, which would enable it to force some landowners to allow the pipeline’s construction on their property. Further, the network of pipes will require a handful of booster stations that would occupy 10 acres apiece.

More than 100 people attended the Ames meeting. Those who spoke were concerned about the use of eminent domain to obtain easements for the pipeline, disturbing the land to construct and bury it, and the potential public safety hazards that might arise from leaks.

There are a handful of informational meetings scheduled for this month, most of which were rescheduled because of the December derecho. A list of them is on the IUB website.

About 110 members of the South Dakota National Guard’s police unit will soon be headed to Cuba for a year-long federal deployment. The 235th Military Police Company, based in Rapid City and Sioux Falls, will train at Fort Bliss, Texas for several weeks before deploying overseas. The unit will provide detention support for Joint Task Force Guantanamo, a U.S. military joint task force based at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. The unit's commander, Capt. Pat Moran, says the soldiers have been preparing for the mission for nearly 16 months.

News release from the Iowa Department of Public Health:

(Des Moines, IA) The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced that 94 community water systems in Iowa have been awarded Water Fluoridation Quality Awards from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The award recognizes water systems that achieved excellence in community water fluoridation by maintaining a consistent level of fluoride in drinking water throughout 2020. A total of 1,292 public water systems in 29 states received the award.

Fluoridation is the adjustment of fluoride in drinking water to a level that is effective for preventing cavities. Community water fluoridation is recognized by the CDC as one of the great 20th century public health achievements. “It is exciting to have 94 Iowa water systems recognized on a national level for their commitment to oral health,” stated Dr. Bob Russell, dental director for the Iowa Department of Public Health. “I congratulate all of the community water systems for their efforts to provide safe, dependable drinking water to our communities--including helping to prevent cavities using water fluoridation.”

2020 Iowa Awardees Adel Municipal Water Works Albert City Municipal Water Supply Algona Municipal Utilities Atlantic Municipal Utilities Audubon Water Supply Bellevue Municipal Utilities Bennett Water Works Boone Water Works Britt Water Works Burlington Municipal Water Works Carlisle Water Supply Casey Water Supply Cedar Falls Municipal Water Utilities Council Bluffs Water Works Cresco Water Works Creston Water Supply Decorah Water Department Denison Water Supply Des Moines Water Works Dexter Water Supply Durant Water Supply Eagle Grove Water Supply Eddyville Municipal Water Department Eldridge Water Supply Elk Horn Municipal Water Works Emmetsburg Municipal Water Department Estherville Water Treatment Plant Forest City Water Supply Fort Madison Municipal Water Works Garner Water Works Glenwood Municipal Utilities Glidden Water Supply Griswold Water Supply Guthrie Center Municipal Water Works Hampton Municipal Water Works Harlan Municipal Utilities Hawarden Water Supply Hiawatha Water Department Huxley Water Works Department Iowa American Water Co., Clinton District Iowa American Water Co., Davenport District Iowa City Water Department Iowa Falls Water Department Iowa Lakes Regional Water Jefferson Water Department Kalona Water Department Keokuk Municipal Water Works Lake Mills Municipal Water Department Lamoni Municipal Utilities Leon Water Supply Logan Water Plant Lone Tree Municipal Water System Madrid Water Department Mahaska Rural Water System, Inc. Malvern Water Supply Manchester Water Supply Manilla Municipal Service Department Maquoketa Municipal Water Marshalltown Water Works Mason City Water Department Milford Municipal Utilities Minden Water Supply Mitchellville Water Supply Nevada Water Supply Newton Water Works Orange City Municipal Water Department Osage Municipal Water Supply Osceola Water Works Oskaloosa Municipal Water Department Paullina Municipal Water Supply Pella Water Works Department Perry Municipal Water Works Rathbun Regional Water Association, Inc. Red Oak Water Supply Regional Water Rock Valley Water Supply Scranton Water System Shelby Water Supply Sibley Public Water Supply Sioux City Water Department Slater Municipal Water Department Sloan Water Supply Solon Water Department Spirit Lake Waterworks Tama Water Supply Tipton Water Supply Van Meter Municipal Water Works Ventura Water Works Waterloo Water Works Waverly Water Department West Central Iowa Rural Water Assn., Boyer West Central Iowa Rural Water Assn., Nishnabotna Winterset Municipal Water Works Xenia Rural Water District - Woodward

“Water fluoridation is one of the best investments that a community can make in maintaining the oral health of its citizens. It is equally as effective in preventing cavities in children and adults,” stated Casey Hannan, MPH, director for the CDC Division of Oral Health. “Fluoridation is also highly cost effective. Studies continue to show that for every $1 a community invests in water fluoridation, $20 are saved in dental treatment costs.”

The CDC recommends water fluoridation as one of the most practical, cost-effective, equitable, and safe measures a community can take to prevent cavities and improve oral health. Community Water Fluoridation is supported by the American Cancer Society, American Dental Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Water Works Association, and over 100 national and international organizations as a safe, effective, and inexpensive method of preventing cavities in children and adults. Both Healthy People 2030 and Healthy Iowans 2021 have set goals to increase the number of people receiving optimally fluoridated water.

The Bureau of Oral and Health Delivery Systems at IDPH monitors the fluoride levels of Iowa communities and provides information and assistance to water supply professionals, healthcare professionals, and the public. IDPH supports CDC-approved fluoridation programs. To find the fluoridation status of Iowa counties and towns, visit My Water’s Fluoride here: https://nccd.cdc.gov/doh_mwf/Default/Default.aspx

Sheila Brummer returns to her radio roots as a Reporter/Special Projects Producer for Siouxland Public Media KWIT-KOJI.
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