Man Changing Plea in Utility Sabotage

A former Kansas utility worker accused of remotely tampering with a public water system’s cleaning procedures has notified a federal court that he plans to change his plea.

Wyatt Travnichek was indicted in March with remotely accessing the Post Rock Rural Water District’s systems in March 2019, about two months after he quit his job with the Ellsworth County utility.

He initially pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Travnichek is accused of shutting down the facility’s cleaning and disinfecting procedures.

When he worked for the utility, he would monitor the water plant remotely by logging into its computer system.

His case has highlighted the difficulty smaller utilities face in protecting against hackers.

A 2016 report from the federal Department of Energy said the Department of Homeland Security responded to 25 water cybersecurity incidents in 2015.