Former Sebring water superintendent pleads not guilty to charges

Bates is accused of failing to promptly notify citizens about the results of water samples tested last year

The Ohio EPA is taking steps to revoke Bates' license and has opened a criminal investigation against him.
File photo of James Bates from March 19, 2014 from an unrelated interview.

SEBRING, Ohio (WKBN) – The village of Sebring’s former water superintendent entered a plea of not guilty to criminal charges filed against him.

James Bates was scheduled to appear in court Thursday on noncompliance of drinking water notification charges, but a not guilty plea and waiver of appearance letter was filed by his attorney on Tuesday.

The charges filed against Bates center on an Environmental Protection Agency investigation into high lead levels found in the water late last year. Bates is accused of failing to promptly notify citizens about the results of water samples tested last year.

Bates was the operator of record for the village of Sebring’s public water system in 2015, when high lead samples were found in the water. Sebring water customers learned that lead levels above the federal action level set by the EPA were discovered in several water test samples, but not until January 21, at least five months after the test results were available.

The delay led to Bates’ removal from the position, as well as the firing of two Ohio EPA employees and demotion of another.

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