Lovettsville Faces $31K Fine for 2019 Sewer Plant Incident

The Town of Lovettsville may be fined $30,975 by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality for an incident that occurred at the wastewater treatment plant more than a year ago.

Interim Town Manager Sam Finz and Utilities Director Stephen Gates informed the Town Council on Thursday night of the state’s proposed consent order. The two said the fine stems from a December 2019 incident surrounding the movement of untreated sewage outside the plant. Gates said that at that time, a former town utility staffer was on call and working during the Christmas holiday when some issues at the plant arose. Gates said the staffer informed the operator in charge that the issue had been resolved. But, Gates said, the issue had actually not been rectified.

Gates said the staff member resolved the issue close to 36 hours later. He said the town fired the employee shortly thereafter “for a multitude of issues.”

Finz said that, while it’s not unusual for incidents like this to happen when operating a sewer plant, the situation at hand was “much larger” and “deserves a lot different attention.”

“It is a violation and when it comes from the state it is a serious matter,” Finz said. “Whatever it is, it requires immediate attention.”

Mayor Nate Fontaine said he had just learned of the matter shortly before Thursday’s meeting. “This is all still very raw,” he said.

Finz, who was appointed as interim town manager Nov. 19, said he and Gates would sit down with the state to find out the details of why DEQ issued the consent order and how the town can appeal it. Finz said he and Gates would also pull together details on the matter and send those to council members.

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