Maui News

EPA addresses pollution violations involving wastewater treatment plants on Hawaiʻi Island

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Today, the US Environmental Protection Agency entered into an Administrative Order on Consent with the County of Hawai’i to ensure pollution discharge requirements are met at the Hilo, Pāpa‘ikou, and Kula‘imano Wastewater Treatment Plants in accordance with the Clean Water Act. The three plants are located on Hawai‘i Island.

EPA identified significant operation and maintenance deficiencies which it says have affected the treatment systems, leading to violations of limitations on what the plants can discharge as well as sewer overflows. EPA officials say the agency has worked cooperatively with the County and Hawai’i Department of Health to identify needs for capital improvements, strengthened planning efforts, and asset management of the county’s wastewater infrastructure systems.

“This order ensures that the County of Hawai’i will prevent further harmful sewage discharges into the ocean, and fix its aging wastewater treatment plants,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “Compliance with the Clean Water Act is essential to protecting public health and Hawai‘i’s cherished coastal waters. With our partners at Hawai‘i Department of Health, EPA will provide attentive oversight of Hawai‘i’s wastewater improvements.”

The consent order requires the County of Hawai‘i to address broken equipment and deferred maintenance and to develop a program to systematically repair, rehabilitate and replace aging infrastructure. The goal of these efforts is to prevent reoccurrence of sewage breaks and sewage spills. The order requirements include:

  • Rehabilitate and repair the Hilo wastewater treatment plant
  • Repair the Kula‘imano and Pāpa‘ikou treatment plants
  • Design a new pipeline that conveys wastewater under pressure at Kealakehe
  • Replace and repair the Hale Hālāwai and the Pua pipelines that convey wastewater under pressure
  • Conduct a comprehensive condition assessment
  • Complete an Integrated Master Plan for wastewater across the county
  • Prepare a financial plan
  • Update Operations and Maintenance manuals for all treatment systems
  • Fully implement an Asset Management System for the county’s wastewater infrastructure
  • Develop a Spill Response Plan to prevent and contain sewer spills
  • Implement a preventative maintenance program for sewer lines to prevent spills

The County of Hawai‘i owns and operates the wastewater collection system and treatment plants, which include approximately 105 miles of gravity sewer lines, 14 miles of sewer force mains, 16 sewer pump stations, and six wastewater treatment plants. The EPA reports it will work closely with the county to ensure all required actions are completed and implemented according to the order.


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