Former truck driver pleads guilty to dumping sewage at west Phoenix school

A man pleaded guilty for dumping thousands of gallons of untreated sewage into a drainage system at a west Phoenix school.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) announced Michael Wayne Higgins, a former truck driver, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful discharge, a water quality violation and a class 5 felony.

Michael Higgins (Arizona AG)

According to a release, Mr. Higgins was working as a tanker truck driver for Emergency Pumping & Plumbing in August 2016 when he dumped thousands of gallons of untreated sewage into a storm drainage system at the Austin School for Exceptional Children Phoenix West Campus, near 91st Avenue and McDowell Road.

The storm drainage system flowed from the school’s parking lot into a grassy area that was used as a playground, according to a release.

The ADEQ followed normal enforcement procedures to remedy the situation.

When Emergency Pumping & Plumbing and Mr. Higgins failed to cooperate or address the violation, the ADEQ referred the case to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. The ADEQ’s Emergency Response Unit contracted out the cleanup of the drywell and subsequent sampling to ensure no public health or environmental risks remained.

Under the plea, Mr. Higgins will pay cleanup costs of $3,993.34. He faces six months to 2.5 years in prison.

His sentencing is set for Dec. 4 at 8:15 a.m.

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