Bill amendment proposes
fines for sewage runoff

But the head of the Transportation
Committee refuses to hear the measure

By Diana Leone

State Sen. J. Kalani English has amended another clean-water bill to include fines for sewage discharge, in a move to get some state regulation of cruise ship effluent this legislative session.

Legislature 2003

Legislature Directory

Legislature Bills & Hawaii Revised Statutes

Senate Bill 503, Senate Draft 1 now proposes fines of up to $40,000 for water pollution caused by runoff from construction sites, underground injection wells or sewage discharges into the ocean.

But the bill faces the same roadblock to its passage as English's stalled Senate Bill 485: Transportation Committee Chairman Cal Kawamoto (D-Waipahu-Pearl City) won't hear it.

English had hoped that by avoiding any specific reference to cruise ships in SB 503, SD 1 that it would not have to pass through Kawamoto's committee. He said his constituents want a hearing to discuss concerns about water pollution from cruise ships as well as from other sources.

Kawamoto maintains that anything that affects state harbors must be reviewed by his committee.

"Mr. English tried to circumvent our committee by doing an end-run," Kawamoto said Friday. "We caught it and protested that it be re-referred to our committee."

In fact, SB 503, SD 1 must be heard by four committees, including Transportation, by a Friday deadline or it is likely dead for the session.

Kawamoto has said he wants to see if a voluntary Memorandum of Understanding between the state and the cruise industry will be enough to prevent harmful sewage spills in state waters.

Though English's current proposal would provide no money for enforcement as the former bill did, "it has the potential to grow some teeth, whereas an MOU is not even wearing dentures," English said.

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