The city of Cleburne asked a judge on Monday to hold the owner of a company that recycles human waste in contempt of court for operating during rainy weather, which the city says threatens the public water supply.
Lord Harrington, owner of Harrington Environmental Services in Godley, appeared in Johnson County District Court to fight the city's claim that he violated a court order.
A judge in November ordered Harrington to follow state environmental rules, which means not spreading waste when it's raining or the ground is too saturated.
Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain said Harrington should be jailed or ordered to shut his business because it could contaminate the city's water supply.
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"Ultimately we have 30,000 people, plus the outlying county, that depends on good clean water to drink," Cain said.
Harrington said his company is licensed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and follows all regulations.
"No we're not worried. We're very optimistic," he said. "Recycling is always a good thing."
In court, several neighbors showed photos and videos they shot of what they claimed were his trucks stuck in muddy fields, operating in wet conditions -- in violation of the court order.
Harrington's company takes treated human waste from septic tanks and spreads it across fields to dispose of it.
"I've seen him do it, especially during saturated soil events," said David Hanna, who runs a dairy farm next door.
The mayor said in such conditions, contamination could flow downstream into Cleburne's water supply.
"He really should go to jail, but more importantly he should stop what he's doing so our water is safe to drink," Cain said.
Harrington, who said he got the name Lord and an accent after living in Britain, argued the safety of Cleburne's water supply is not an issue.
"It absolutely affects the city of Cleburne's drinking water none whatsoever. False concerns," he said.
The judge adjourned Monday's hearing with one defense witness to go. The case was set to continue Tuesday morning.
Johnson County is joining the city of Cleburne in the case. Cain said the two governments have spent $250,000 on attorney fees.
Harrington said he owns the business with his father who also was in court Monday.