Measure urges city sewage compliance
Two councilmen call for the city to follow orders from the EPA
The city should stop fighting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's tentative order to upgrade two sewage treatment plants, two City Council members proposed yesterday.
Councilmen Charles Djou and Todd Apo's Resolution 07-132 calls for compliance by 2020 with the federal Clean Water Act, which controls sewage treatment standards, "without the need for any variances." It is on the agenda of the Council Transportation and Public Works agenda for 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
"Our natural ocean environment is so important to Oahu for tourism, recreation and fishing," Djou said. "It is a complete shame that the administration refuses to even come up with a plan for bringing our sewer discharge into compliance with all existing environmental regulations."
In March the EPA issued a tentative decision that it would no longer grant a waiver so the city's Honouliuli plant could use "primary treatment" of sewage, which strains and settles out solids before releasing the effluent to the ocean.
If a waiver is not allowed, the city would have to upgrade to secondary treatment, which adds a biological treatment step.
The city estimates upgrading treatment to secondary would cost $400 million for Honouliuli and $800 million for Sand Island, the other plant that has a waiver.
The city has said it expects the EPA to deny the Sand Island waiver this fall.
The EPA said the Honouliuli plant is not meeting water quality requirements for a waiver. The agency has not said how rapidly it would require the upgrades.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann and his administration have urged the public to protest the EPA's decision at a public hearing at 7 p.m. today at Kapolei Middle School. The mayor has said adding the treatment upgrades to already planned sewer collection system upgrades could push the average monthly sewage fee over $300.
City spokesman Bill Brennan called the resolution yesterday "just more political grandstanding on the part of Councilmember Djou."
"He's trying to make up for years of a lack of leadership in the environmental area as a member of the City Council, where he sat idly by while the previous administration raided the city's sewer funds," Brennan said.
Apo said he sees the resolution as a way "to have this discussion of what it means to come into compliance and what's a reasonable amount of time to do that."
The Honouliuli plant is in Apo's West Oahu district. Djou's East Honolulu district includes Waikiki, which suffered a record sewage spill of 48 million gallons from a bypass of a broken sewer main in March 2006.