City settles with state for $300,000 over sewage


POSTED: Thursday, January 14, 2010

While refusing to accept blame, the city has agreed to a $300,000 settlement with the state over alleged sewage violations at Kualoa Regional Park that polluted ocean waters for months, state health officials said yesterday.

The state Department of Health alleges the city allowed waste water from park restrooms to spill into the ocean between 2005 and 2007, leading to dangerously high bacterial counts in near-shore waters.

The Health Department determined bacteria levels persistently exceeded state and national standards, increasing the possibility of people getting sick from entering the water.

The city admitted no liability by settling, the Health Department said.

As part of the settlement, the city must seek permits to replace the park's waste-water systems and manually pump out sewage until the replacement is completed.

Larry Lau, the Health Department's director of environmental health, said ancient Hawaiian remains could delay construction and force the city to indefinitely pump out waste.

City spokesman Bill Brennan disputed the state's claim that the bacteria came from the restrooms, adding that bacterial counts were higher during less-crowded winter months.

“;No source has been identified as the cause for the high bacteria counts,”; he said in a statement.

Prior to 2007, the city percolated treated sewage into the ground, but in January of that year the city began diverting restroom waste water into holding tanks.

The city has since checked the holding tanks twice a week and pumped them as necessary. This will continue until the system is replaced, Brennan said.

Brennan said half of the settlement will go to a fund for environmental projects at Kualoa and the rest will pay for more water tests at the beach, possibly determining the pollution source.