EPA Proposes to Require Upgrade at Honouliuli Sewage Plant

On March 28, EPA proposed to not renew a permit variance exempting the Honouliuli Wastewater Treatment plant from meeting full secondary treatment requirements.

"We share Hawaii's commitment to protect its ocean and waters as a way of life for the citizens of Hawaii and its visitors," said Wayne Nastri, EPA's administrator for the Pacific Southwest region. "Our action today reflects that the Honouilili plant does not meet the Clean Water Act requirements. EPA will continue to work closely with the city to address its wastewater operations and ensure that Hawaii's residents and marine life are protected."

The city of Honolulu's Honouliuli plant, located in Ewa, is currently operating under a variance from full secondary treatment. If EPA's proposal becomes final, the city and county of Honolulu's will be required to upgrade the plant to full secondary treatment, which could cost $400 million.

Primary treatment generally involves screening out large floating objects such as rags and sticks, removing grit, such as cinders, sand and small stones, and allowing wastewater to settle, followed by the removal of collected solids. When secondary treatment is used, primary-treated wastewater flows into another facility where a large portion of the organic matter in the wastewater is removed by making use of the bacteria in the sewage. There are a variety of different biological-treatment techniques that allow the bacteria to consume most of the waste's organic matter.

The Honouliuli plant's discharged water results in exceedances of national criteria for allowable levels of bacteria which are designed to protect recreational use of state waters, and does not meet water quality standards set to protect marine life or human consumption of fish, agency officials said.

EPA's tentative decision will be available for public comment through May 29.

For more information, visit http://www.epa.gov/region09/water/npdes/pubnotices.html.

This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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