Ex-owner of OC wastewater treatment company pleads guilty to federal charge
The former owner of a wastewater treatment facility in Orange County and his company each pleaded guilty Friday to a federal environmental criminal charge for discharging untreated industrial wastewater into the county’s sewer system.
Tim Miller, 65, of Kewaskum, Wisconsin, and his company, Klean Waters Inc., pleaded guilty in downtown Los Angeles to one felony count of knowingly violating a requirement of an approved pretreatment program, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
U.S. District Judge Josephine Staton scheduled an April 14 sentencing hearing. Miller faces up to three years in federal prison and Klean Waters face a possible maximum of three years probation and $50,000 in fines.
According to their plea agreements, from 2013 to April 2015, Miller was the owner and president of Klean Waters, a wastewater treatment facility in Orange. Klean Waters was permitted to receive nonhazardous industrial wastewater, treat it for pollutants if needed, and then discharge the water into the Orange County Sanitation District’s sewer.
OCSD runs a pretreatment program that was approved under federal law and that implements and enforces national standards established under the Clean Water Act, prosecutors said. Pursuant to the act, any violation of any requirement imposed in OCSD’s local pre-treatment program is a violation of federal law.
In 2013, Miller applied for and received a permit from OCSD for Klean Waters to discharge wastewater into the sewer. Klean Waters’ permit required the defendant to, among other things, test and treat wastewater so the level of pollutants remained below permitted levels when it was discharged to the sewer.
In April 2015, without testing the wastewater, Miller knowingly caused Klean Waters to discharge wastewater into the sewer, so that the type and concentration of pollutants in the wastewater remained unknown, according to federal prosecutors.