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AWU ups sewage spill reward as clock ticks on hunt for suspect(s)

Monday, May 24, 2010 by Michael Kanin

The Austin Water Utility (AWU) has upped the reward it’s offering for information leading to the arrest of the individual(s) who allegedly caused the massive sewer spill two weekends ago (see In Fact Daily, May 10, 2010). Initially set at $5000, that figure has been increased to $7500, which, when coupled with the $1000 being offered by Crimestoppers, brings the total reward to $8500.


The amount was announced at a press conference held at Barton Springs on Friday morning. There, AWU Director Greg Meszaros also said that the dollar amount that the utility has spent on cleaning up after the spill has also drifted north, from $40,000 to $70,000. He noted that that sum could still rise.


After that event, Austin Police Department (APD) Detective Adam Masters told In Fact Daily that there had been other developments in the case. “More than likely, the tampering with that manhole and the clogging up started happening long before we actually found it on (May) 10,” he said.


“It could have gone as far back as early May, really early May, even into the end of April. (We’re) not positive on that, but that’s kind of what it’s looking like.”


Masters said that the new information added to the “culpability” factor. “If you were to find a suspect, there would be no denying that it was intentional,” he noted.


As for the hunt, the hike in the reward could well be an indication that the window is closing on the time that officials have to find their suspect(s). “We’ve gotten a lot of tips from folks that live out in the Circle C area, kind of what they might have seen that might have seemed suspicious to them,” Masters said.


He added, however, that his team had received no specifics. “The tips that we’ve gotten weren’t really of any certain suspect, just of what people in the area have seen,” he said. “While that’s very helpful, we really would like to get … somebody who has heard exactly who might have done it, heard some rumors.


“Even if they can’t say for 100 percent that they know that the other person did it, if they could give us the information they have and we could follow up on it, that’s where we’re trying to get to right now.”


In his remarks, Meszaros echoed that sentiment. “We wanted to make one more plea for assistance in any information that the community may have,” he said. 


“We need help,” he later added. “And we’re making a final plea for additional information … (we) hope somebody out there can assist us in solving this crime.”

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