Kualoa contamination nets city $300,000 fine
The release of sewage into the sea prompts the state's penalty
The city must pay a $300,000 fine for discharging sewage into the ocean at Kualoa Regional Park and give monthly progress reports on fixing the restrooms there, state officials have ordered.
According to a Jan. 26 order available yesterday at the Health Department, the state posted warning signs at Kualoa on Dec. 3, 2005, "due to bacteria counts that exceeded state water quality standards in ocean water."
That contaminated-water posting was made after 21 water samples taken over 93 days exceeded the state standard for recreational ocean water, according to the order signed by Laurence Lau, deputy director for environmental health.
The signs remained posted from December 2005 until Memorial Day 2006, when water quality improved.
However, on Jan. 12 the state again posted contaminated-water signs at Kualoa.
"The source of the high bacteria counts appeared to be coming from the City and County of Honolulu's collection system, as there appeared no other sources of bacteria in the area," the violation order says.
The city has never agreed that the four restrooms at its park have been the cause of the high bacterial counts in the ocean at Kualoa Regional Park, city spokesman Bill Brennan said yesterday.
City officials are reviewing the state's "notice and finding of violation" and have not decided whether to appeal it, Brennan said.
Since the 2005 contamination postings at the park, the city has used sewage pumper trucks to clean out the cesspools several times a week, he said.
The state order says that the city improperly converted cesspool-type waste-water units that serve the park into holding tanks. Whether the city continues to use those units as holding tanks for sewage or installs new tanks, it must test the tanks for stability and leakage and install an alarm to monitor high waste-water levels.
The order also requires the city to explain how it is keeping sewage from getting into the ocean and to submit by March 30 a report on whether it will need an environmental assessment or impact statement, a state historical review or a state burial council review before proceeding with repair or replacement of the Kualoa waste-water system.