Coming clean about dirty work, Grand Island admits to violations at its wastewater treatment plant. But unlike past problems that killed fish and stunk up the town, this is a different kind of problem.
Most recently, Grand Island failed not one but two inspections at the plant.
"For failing to file reports on time," Wastewater Engineer Marv Strong explained.
The plant's operating just fine according to the city, but the EPA is penalizing Grand Island for paperwork that never got turned in.
Strong said, "They definitely got our attention and we will make sure to do everything by the book."
Strong, the plant's new engineer enjoys strolling through the facility, making sure everything checks out. After spending his entire adult life working in the industry, in both private and public facilities, he said he likes what he does.
"The plant is performing at a very high level," he said. "We're removing 98-99 percent of all pollutants coming in to the plant."
So why announce these violations before they're even finalized? Mayor Jay Vavricek encouraged the release, because of the plant's stinky history -- contributing to odor and killing fish.
Grand Island residents for years complained about odor issues to the point the city set up an odor hotline. Most of that discussion centered around the JBS Swift packing plant, which has invested in technology to reduce the problem. The meat packing plant is next door to the city's water plant, and is the city's biggest customer.
In 2008, a canal connected to the water plant was the source of a large fish kill.
The public works director says the public deserves to know about the latest issue, even if it is just paperwork.
Interim Public Works Director Terry Brown said, "I don't know if the city was always real transparent in something like this. Fact is there were worse cases, just weren't reported outright and that's something going forward we want to be as transparent as we can be."
Many key positions at the plant have changed hands. Marv Strong is working with his team to check everything off the list.
He said, "We're good stewards for the environment and doing the right thing to protect the
They've got a new checklist in the lab to make sure this doesn't happen again.
Brown said, "Even though is was a report, paperwork that wasn't turned in on time we have to take it seriously and reviewing our process we will be making some changes on who is responsible for making sure things are submitted."
Regulators could impose fines, but city officials say that's not likely.