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Former Hays wastewater manager pleads not guilty


By The Hays Daily News

By The Hays Daily News

WICHITA -- A former manager of wastewater facilities for the city of Hays made his initial appearance Wednesday in U.S. District Court to face charges of violating the Clean Water Act.

Charles L. Blair, 57, Hays, pleaded not guilty to four counts of making false statements about nitrogen levels in the effluent for the city of Hays. In three counts, Blair is alleged to have made false statements in discharge monitoring reports. The reports significantly understated the amount of ammonia nitrogen in the city's effluent, documents said. In another count, Blair is alleged to have falsely stated to agents of the Environmental Protection Agency he had provided accurate reports to EPA.

The crimes are alleged to have occurred in February, March and July 2012 in Hays.

Blair was released on $10,000 unsecured bond. There will be a scheduling order in the next few weeks for a tentative trial date.

If convicted, Blair faces a maximum penalty of two years in federal prison and a fine up to $10,000 on each of the first three counts and a maximum penalty of five years and a fine up to $250,000 on the fourth count.

Blair had worked for the city of Hays for approximately 29 years, the last four years as wastewater superintendent until his retirement last summer.