By Joe Lewis - Staff Writer
April 10, 2013 —
Olive Hill Mayor Kenny Fankell confirmed two weeks ago that Edward A. Stevens, the city’s water plant supervisor, had been fired after his water plant operator’s license was suspended.
Fankell said at the time that he could not provide specific details on why the Kentucky Division of Water (DOW) had taken that action.
Documents obtained by the Journal-Times reveal that Stevens submitted false information regarding water turbidity and the status of the plant’s online monitoring equipment.
The DOW issued a violation notice on Oct. 31, 2011, outlining its findings. According to Environment Inspector Dan Canafax, “False information was submitted on the February and March Monthly Operating Reports (MOR).
Online turbidity readings were not recorded from 7 a.m. on Feb. 21, 2011, until 12:15 p.m. on March 6, 2011.”
In the monthly report, however, Stevens had indicated there were no issues with the online reporting equipment and that it was functioning properly.
Turbidity is the cloudiness or haziness of water caused by individual particles of suspended solids that are generally invisible to the naked eye, similar to smoke in air.
The measurement of turbidity is a key test of water quality.
In a Dec. 8 e-mail, Canafax revealed that this was not the first time Stevens had run afoul of the DOW’s regulations regarding turbidity reporting.
“Mr. Stevens was warned following the notice of violation issued to Olive Hill in September 2010 for, among other things, turbidity violations and false turbidity information submitted on the MORs, that he should review the recordings on the plant computer before filling out the MORs,” wrote Canafax.
During that time period, the city experienced abnormally high turbidity levels in its water supply which Stevens attributed at the time to the “turning over” of the lake.
Initially, Stevens denied the allegation that he falsified reports, stating, “I have always been truthful with the Division of Water. I have never lied about any of the readings. Just because the computer didn’t record some of the NTUs doesn’t mean that there was a failure in the turbidity units. They have been reading all along.”
In his February 2013 correspondence to the DOW, however, Stevens appeared more contrite.
“I realize that mistakes were made on my part and for that I truly apologize. I did not understand the regulations on recording the NTUs. I would never knowingly record false numbers.”
Provided he completes DOW-mandated training, Stevens will be eligible to apply for reinstatement of his license after March 1, 2014.
Joe Lewis can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 286-4201.