City counters EPA’s sewer plan
The city has submitted a response to the Environmental Protection Agency, reiterating earlier arguments that the agency's tentative decision to require the Honouliuli Wastewater Treatment to have full secondary treatment would be an "unjustified burden."
The EPA stopped accepting public comment on Monday, and a spokesman said it could take up to several months before a decision is made whether to rescind the city's waiver -- first granted in 1991 -- that allows it to operate the plant without undergoing secondary treatment.
According to an in-depth response, the city maintains that secondary treatment will not benefit Oahu residents environmentally, and sharply criticizes the EPA's method of monitoring data, calling it "arbitrary" and "conclusory."
"By 'cherry picking' selected data in an attempt to justify a rescission of the waiver after 13 years of monitoring that clearly indicate no harm, EPA pays only lip service to its regulations and the ... criteria to achieve its predetermined outcome," the report said.
In March the EPA announced this tentative decision, arguing that water quality tests near the Honouliuli plant's outfall near Barbers Point show bacteria levels in the water that exceed EPA's standards for recreational use.
But Mayor Mufi Hannemann argued that denying the waiver would force the city to spend $1.2 billion in sewer plant upgrades -- a cost it cannot accommodate with $1.5 billion in sewer pipe improvements on the way.
"We need to continue to concentrate our efforts on our collection system," Hannemann said in a statement. "There are really no water quality or health benefits to be gained by spending hundreds of millions of dollars going to full secondary treatment at Honouliuli."