Park City landlord accused of dumping raw sewage

By 
Marlo Pronovost
Thursday, June 10, 2021
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Gary R. Weitz

A Park City landlord is being taken to district court by county officials for allegedly dumping raw sewage from his rental properties, compromising the water quality of multiple locations, including the Park City school.

Gary R. Weitz is also accused of continuing to dump sewage despite multiple site visits and letters of violation from local and state environmental officials.

In a civil complaint titled “abatement of public health nuisance” filed Friday, June 4, in district court by Deputy Stillwater County Attorney Ryan Addis on the behalf of the Stillwater County Health Board, the following allegations against Weitz are set forth:

Weitz operates rentals that are comprised of two double-story buildings, one single-story building and four single-wide mobile homes that are collectively referred to as the Homestead Property. The property has at least 15 rental units that house approximately 39 tenants. According to the complaint, tenants have reported the water quantity and quality as “inadequate.”

In early 2021, Stillwater County Environmental Registered Health Sanitarian Josh Juarez received a complaint about sewage being discharged into what was believed to be a cistern at the Homestead Property.

On March 15, Juarez made a site-visit and confirmed that “raw, untreated sewage was being discharged into a makeshift ditch at the sewer connection between two dwelling units on the Homestead Property,” according to the complaint.

Juarez took a water sample from the property’s well and submitted it for testing, which revealed a nitrate level of 7.99 mg/L. Montana groundwater standards for nitrate levels cannot exceed 10 mg/L for public or private water supplies. Nitrate levels of 5 mg/L is considered the trigger number that prompts environmental health officials to investigate nitrate contamination, according to the complaint.

Five days earlier, a water sample taken at a business downstream from the Homestead Property showed a nitrate level of 8.15 mg/L.

On March 17, Juarez sent Weitz a certified letter advising that the raw, untreated sewage discharge was in violation of state law and instructed Weitz to immediately stop pending the a repair to the sewage connection and inspection by the Stillwater County Environmental Health Department.

On March 26, Juarez took water samples from the Park City Fire District (west of the property, and U.S. Post Office (south of the property) and Rocking 95 (east of the property.) The results prompted Juarez to contact the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. Those results were as follows:

• Park City Fire District: west well – 12.2, southwest well – 7.65, east well – 7.70.

• Post Office: 11.6

• Rocking 95: 2.83

On April 1, Juarez called Weitz and “was assured that the necessary repairs were underway” and that he would contact Juarez for an inspection when finished.

On April 20, Juarez confirmed that raw, untreated sewage was still being dumped into a makeshift ditch at the sewer connection spot, according to the complaint.

On April 21, Juarez sent Weitz a second certified letter, again advising him that he was in violation of state law and that his ongoing conduct was “impacting neighboring water supplies and is considered a direct impact to public health in Stillwater County,” according to the complaint. Juarez also told Weitz that an inspection on the repaired connection would be conducted no later than April 30.

“As of April 30, 2021, Defendant Gary Weitz neither ceased the discharge of raw, untreated sewage into a makeshift ditch nor contacted Stillwater County Environmental Health for an inspection of the sewage connection,” according to the complaint.

Since that time, Juarez has continued to find raw, untreated sewage in the makeshift ditch and also observed management “pumping and spreading sewage from the ditch into the alley and onto adjacent properties,” according to the complaint.

On May 7, nitrate levels at the Post Office tested at 18.9.

“Based on his investigation, Juarez determined that well water testing samples show increased nitrate levels as the groundwater approaches and flows past the Homestead Property from northwest to southeast. Juarez further determined that the nitrate levels at adjacent properties to the east and west are also elevated, but not as great as the direction of the aquifer flow,” according to the complaint.

Juarez also determined that the likely source of nitrate contamination was coming from the Homestead property, according to the complaint.

On May 21, the DEQ issued a violation letter that stated the “likely source of nitrate contamination in the downgradient wells at Pop’s Inn, the United States Post Office and (the) Park City School is the Homestead Property.”

The DEQ letter concludes that, “[t]he Homestead Property violated the WQA (Water Quality Act) by causing an exceedance of the groundwater standard for human health of 10 mg/L nitrate plus nitrite in the downstream wells.”

The complaint seeks to have a judge determine that Weitz “created or maintained, or both, a public health nuisance which shall be immediately abated pursuant Section 50-2-116, MCA.”

Also named as defendants in the case are Robette Weitz and Robette R. Weitz Living Trust.

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