Mobile home park owner accused of dumping sewage into Truckee River
VERDI, Nev. (News 4 & Fox 11) —
The owner of a Verdi mobile home park is under investigation, accused of dumping raw sewage into a ditch that made its way into the Truckee River.
It was caught on video Feb. 9. A resident at the Crystal Peak Mobile Home Park saw a hose dumping what he suspected was sewage into a drainage ditch.
"Fresh water that smells like (expletive)," said the resident while he recorded.
The videographer followed a hose dumping in the substance into stream to its source inside a big metal shipping container.
"...Show you right where it connects to which is this septic tank, he's polluting the water," he's heard saying on the video.
The Bureau of Water Pollution Control with the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection issued a complaint and a cease and desist order to the mobile home park owner, Glen Highfield.
The state said he installed an illegal above-ground tank to hold sewage. That tank is inside a big metal container. The state said the sewage was collected from some or all of the 38 mobile homes in the park.
Investigators said leach fields were saturated so sewage was pumped into the tank, which was not meant to hold fluids. Highfield is accused of pumping raw sewage into an open ditch that flowed into the Truckee River.
"Whenever you're dealing with raw sewage, you're always dealing with a human health issue, so you're dealing with concerns with public health exposure to public pathogens and bacteria," said Joe Maez, the Bureau of Water Pollution Control Engineer.
On the video there's at least one hole where you can see liquid pouring out. That too made its way into nearby ditch and the surrounding ground.
Residents tell News 4 that the park's owner dumped sewage regularly. Highfield wouldn't talk on camera, but over the phone he said it only happened once.
The state's not so sure though. It only had the video evidence of the one alleged violation of contaminating the ground, ditch and Truckee River. But it's unknown how much sewage was disposed and for how many days.
Neighbors downstream are concerned.
"Kind of disappointing. It's really gross that somebody would do that out here," said Verdi Resident Dirk Maxwell.
Maez said they've ordered Highfield to stop pumping sewage into the ground, dismantle the storage tank and clean up the ground.
"(We're) working with the mobile home park manager to make sure the area is basically cordoned off from public access. We're disinfecting the spill site with in this case lime to kill all the pathogens," Maez said.
But when News 4 went out several times in February, the area was not roped off. It was open to anyone who came to visit.
If Highfield doesn't stop dumping sewage immediately and doesn't come up with a plan to disconnect the storage tank by March 17, he'll face a $25,000-a-day fine.