A Schuylkill County man is facing charges after police say he was caught urinating into a unit that filters drinking water for a number of local municipalities.
Paul Herb, 52, of Mar Lin, has been charged with institutional vandalism, criminal mischief and tampering with a public water system.
Herb was an employee of the Schuylkill County Municipal Authority (SCMA) but has since been fired. The authority's executive director, Patrick Caulfield, said Herb was a certified water treatment operator and had been with the SCMA for 18 and a half years.
Police say on April 20, the SCMA chief water operator arrived at the Indian Run Water Treatment Plant near the Gordon Nagle Trail in Branch Township to help Herb fix some faulty valves. When he arrived, investigators say he saw Herb urinating into one of the plant's filter units.
"It's important to understand that other authority personnel were on site when this inicident occured and the filter was immediately able to be isolated and at no point was any potential contamination able to be integrated with the public water supply and distribution," Caulfield told 69 News.
"At no time was public health or safety threatened with this incident," he said.
Caulfield said the necessary steps have been taken and they've been working closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to ensure the water meets federal and state standards.
"Two days of sampling and analysis were taken and we did not engage the pumps to put the system back into full normal operation until the all clear was given by our laboratory and approved by DEP," explained Caulfield.
The Indian Run Water Treatment Plant provides drinking water to portions of Pottsville, Forest Hills, Bunker Hill, Mt. Carbon, North Manheim Township and Norwegian Township.
Caulfield said, "Although this incident was very unfortunate, we want to make sure that the public understands that integrity of the water supply is of critical importance to us and we will continue to ensure that."