EPA Takes Action to Address Ongoing Pollution Violations at Kailua Wastewater Treatment Plant
News Release from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, September 29, 2023
HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has entered into an Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) with the City and County of Honolulu (CCH) to ensure pollutant discharge requirements are met at the Kailua Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant. This order follows a previous AOC that was entered into December 2022 between the EPA and CCH and is necessitated by the fact that the plant has continued to exceed National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) effluent limits for bacteria. Based upon condition assessments, maintenance evaluations, and additional monitoring requirements of the previous order, EPA is requiring additional treatment and maintenance be performed at the wastewater treatment plant.
“This order ensures that the Kailua Treatment Plant continues to take steps to prevent any further bacteria exceedances in what the plant discharges into the ocean,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “Compliance with the Clean Water Act permit is essential to protecting public health and Hawai‘i's coastal waters. With our partners at Hawai‘i Department of Health, we will continue to provide vigilant oversight over Hawai‘i's wastewater plants.”
To prevent further exceedances, EPA is requiring the facility to:
- Install and operate new disinfection treatment technology to treat all effluent from the wastewater treatment plant to ensure compliance with bacteria levels established in its Clean Water Act permit.
- Perform major repairs to the biological treatment units (“biotowers”) to prevent additional failures.
The City and County of Honolulu operates the Kailua treatment plant, which treats up to 15 million gallons per day of wastewater collected from the Ahuimanu, Kaneohe, and Kailua communities. The facility is designed to release treated wastewater to the Pacific Ocean 3,500 feet offshore of the Mokapu Peninsula. The treatment plant is authorized to discharge wastewater via a Clean Water Act permit issued by the Hawai‘i Department of Health.
Separately, EPA has a consent decree with the City and County of Honolulu for wastewater improvements. The consent decree was issued in 2010, and requires upgrades to the wastewater collection sewer system, reduction of spills from the sanitary sewers, and upgrades to the Sand Island and Honouliuli wastewater treatment plants. Upgrades are required to be completed by 2035.
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