Runoff will cost Hokulia $200,000
The reef seems OK, but lava tube sea life took a heavy blow
KAILUA-KONA » The state Department of Health has proposed a $200,000 settlement for a violation stemming from storm water runoff from the Hokulia land development in Kona that polluted the ocean with silt and mud in 2000.
Developer 1250 Oceanside Partners -- without admitting liability -- agreed to pay $50,000 to the state Environmental Response Revolving Fund and $150,000 to improve docks at Keauhou Boat Harbor, the Health Department announced.
Discovery of up to three inches of silt on coral reefs following heavy rain and runoff on Sept. 8, 2000, led to environmental complaints and later to charges of improper handling of Hawaiian burials and cultural sites.
Further complaints led to a court ruling that the 1,550-acre Hokulia development was an urban project being illegally built on agricultural land. The project was shut down until a $100 million settlement of a lawsuit against it was reached this spring.
The public has 30 days to comment on the $200,000 settlement.
State-approved runoff measures were in place in 2000, but the September storm was bigger than anyone anticipated, said Oceanside President John De Fries. After the runoff, Oceanside spent more than $6 million on corrective measures, he said.
The Department of Health said yesterday, "There appeared to be no lasting reef damage in the area."
State aquatic biologist William Walsh said that statement is generally true for open water areas. Some patches of coral were killed, but dead patches are found in any healthy reef, he said.
But submerged lava tubes leading back under the land were heavily affected. These contain mollusks, corals, lobsters and shrimp, he said. Currents do not wash mud out of those tubes, and their recovery is unclear, Walsh said.
Jack Kelly, a plaintiff against Oceanside, said the main settlement reached in March requires Oceanside to fund ocean studies for 10 miles from Keauhou past Hokulia south to Honaunau.
In related matters, a motion for the dismissal of two lawsuits against Hawaii County by more than 100 purchasers of Hokulia home sites will be heard in federal and state courts this month, county and company officials said.
A lawsuit by the Coupe Family Trust to block a highway that Oceanside must build could also be decided or sent to mediation, county lawyer Joseph Kamelamela said.
Application by Oceanside to change Hokulia's land classification from urban to rural will come toward the end of the year, De Fries said.