DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH CITES CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU FOR KAILUA BAY WASTEWATER PERMIT VIOLATIONS
News Release from Hawaii DoH, Jun 29, 2023
HONOLULU, HI– The Hawaiʻi Department of Health (DOH) issued a Notice of Violation and Order (NOVO) to the City and County of Honolulu (CCH) for discharging effluent in exceedance of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit limits from the Kailua Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant into Kailua Bay.
Between April 2023 and May 2023, CCH discharged effluent from the wastewater treatment plant in exceedance of daily NPDES permit limits for enterococci on 13 occasions, including exceeding the monthly NPDES permit limit for the month of April. The NOVO requires CCH to pay $434,350.00 in penalties related to the effluent discharges and late submission of a required discharge monitoring report.
“Discharge of pollutants above allowable limits into state waters is not acceptable,” said Kathleen Ho, Deputy Director of Environmental Health. “We will continue to take action to protect public health and the environment.”
All persons, including business owners, government agencies, and visitors must comply with environmental laws. Failure to comply with water pollution laws may subject violators to monetary penalties of up to $25,000 per day, per violation.
The DOH Clean Water Branch responds to water pollution of state waters. The Clean Water Branch protects public health and the environment by prohibiting discharges which impair water quality, keeping Hawaiʻi’s waters fishable and swimmable for everyone. Owners and operators of wastewater systems must comply with environmental regulations that are in place to protect the public. Failure to do so results in legal action by the state, federal partners and/or private citizens.
A copy of the NOVO can be found at this link: CCH Kailua Regional WWTP NOVO Docket No. 2023-CW-EO-20 NOVO.pdf
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Department of Environmental Services takes action to address effluent exceedances at Kailua Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant
News Release from City and County of Honolulu, June 28, 2023
HONOLULU – The Department of Environmental Services (ENV) is committed to safeguarding public health and the environment through the responsible operation of the Kailua Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant (KRWWTP). ENV acknowledges recent exceedances of enterococcus bacteria levels in the fully treated effluent discharged through the deep ocean outfall. Immediate corrective actions were taken, investigations conducted, and additional measures implemented to ensure compliance with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued by the Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH).
Between April and May 2023, the KRWWTP experienced 13 days during which grab samples of the treated effluent showed elevated levels of enterococcus bacteria, surpassing the limits specified in the NPDES permit. As a result of the permit exceedances, DOH issued a Notice of Violation and Order to ENV.
“Our staff investigated the exceedances, and we made immediate corrective actions, in addition to further optimizing the plant performance,” ENV Director Roger Babcock said. “Laboratory tests of the samples gathered since May 5, 2023, established the enterococcus in the effluent is well within permit limits.”
In accordance with Chapter 11-55 of the Hawai‘i Administrative Rules and the city’s NPDES permit, the city promptly notified DOH of the exceedances, providing verbal reports and submitting written reports within five days of each incident. ENV also maintained open communication with the DOH, providing updates on the investigation progress and findings. In addition to meeting these regulatory requirements, the city issued news releases and, in cooperation with DOH, posted signs along Kailua Bay to alert the public to avoid the waters around the Kailua outfall.
ENV diligently monitored the shoreline waters of Kailua Bay and found no exceedances, except during periods of heavy rain when DOH issued Brown Water Quality advisories. These advisories were unrelated to the effluent discharge from the KRWWTP.
To further enhance treatment efficiency and address enterococcus levels, ENV is actively pursuing improvement projects at the KRWWTP. Currently, an Ultra Violet Disinfection system is being designed and constructed within the treatment process. This system is anticipated to be operational on or before December 2025 and will significantly lower enterococcus levels.
“We continue to communicate and work collaboratively with DOH to ensure the KRWWTP operates within the guidelines of the NPDES permit as we continue to make improvements and upgrades,” Babcock said.
The City and County of Honolulu continues to invest in improvements and upgrades to all its facilities to protect public health and preserve the environment.
SA: City fined $434K for bacteria exceedances at Kailua Bay