Welcome to the American Revolution II

Welcome to the American Revolution II
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.
"We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose and insidious in method..." and warned about what he saw as unjustified government spending proposals and continued with a warning that "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex... The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist... Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."Dwight D. Eisenhower

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Mayor Mufi Hannemann

City and County of Honolulu wastewater treatment plants’ exemptions not renewed / Sand Island and Honouliuli plants will be required to upgrade to full secondary treatment

Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711, higuchi.dean@epa.gov

HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today issued final decisions to not renew the City and County of Honolulu’s variances exempting the Sand Island and Honouliuli Wastewater Treatment plants from full secondary treatment requirements.

EPA has concluded that the discharges from the two plants do not meet the Clean Water Act’s conditions for renewed variances from requirements which apply to most of the nation’s municipal sewage treatment plants. Specifically, the discharges from the two plants do not meet all applicable water quality standards. Neither of the plants’ discharges protect recreational use or marine life in the vicinity of the ocean outfalls. As a result, the two plants do not qualify for renewed variances.

“This action will ensure that residents and visitors using Hawaii’s ocean waters are protected from inadequately treated sewage,” said Wayne Nastri, the EPA's Administrator for the Pacific Southwest region. “We will work with the city on a realistic schedule to upgrade its two largest wastewater plants, taking into account the other priorities for improvements to Honolulu’s wastewater system.”

The city’s Sand Island plant, located in Honolulu, and the Honouliuli plant, located in Ewa, were both operating under variances from secondary treatment. With the final decision to not renew the variances, both plants will be required to upgrade to full secondary treatment.

In reaching these final decisions, EPA considered nearly 600 comments received in writing and presented verbally at two public hearings. Written responses to all comments received have been posted on EPA’s website. In response to these comments, EPA made modifications to tentative Decision Documents released in 2007, but these changes did not alter the overall conclusions that the two plants do not qualify for renewed variances.

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 federal Clean Water Act generally requires municipal wastewater treatment plants to use both primary and secondary treatment. Amendments to the Act in 1977 allow for variances from secondary treatment for marine discharges, provided the plant meets water quality standards and other specific criteria as part of section 301(h) of the act. These variances are sometimes referred to as 301(h) waivers. Many coastal cities that once sought variances from secondary treatment, especially in areas where there is heavy recreational beach use, have chosen to upgrade their treatment plants to meet Clean Water Act requirements without variances.

EPA Refuses To Budge On Secondary Treatment

Reported by: Andrew Pereira
Email: apereira@khon2.com

Honolulu needs to be on the same playing field with other cities when it comes to the secondary treatment of its sewage.

That was the assertion made by EPA Region 9 Administrator Jared Blumenfeld Tuesday in an interview with Khon2.

“We want to make sure that the wastewater treatment system here and the water going out into the Pacific is the same as it would be in any other state,” said Blumenfeld, who was in Honolulu to present the city a $499,000 grant for energy conservation efforts.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann has been trying to convince the Environmental Protection Agency secondary treatment of sewage at the Honouliuli and Sand Island wastewater treatments plants is unnecessary.

Secondary treatment involves removing most of the organic matter from the sewage. Upgrading the two facilities is expected to cost Oahu taxpayers $1.2 billion.

Blumenfeld, who has oversight over Arizona, California, Nevada, and Hawaii, told Khon2 the federal Clean Water Act needs to apply to all states equally.

“We need to create a level playing field so that people understand that the laws of the United States passed by Congress are applied equally wherever you are in the fifty states,” he said.

Currently within the fifty states, only the two wastewater treatment plants in Honolulu and one in Southern California do not provide secondary treatment of sewage. However the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment plant in San Diego has agreed to include secondary treatment by 2015 at a cost estimated at $1.5 billion.

“So really,” said Blumenfeld, “the largest city in the United States not to have secondary treatment is the City and County of Honolulu.”

The EPA refused to continue secondary treatment variances for the Honouliuli and Sand Island wastewater treatment facilities in January of 2009.

Since then Hannemann has waged a campaign against the EPA decision, saying the agency’s water quality standards as well as those used by the state Department of Health are outdated.

The mayor has said repeatedly that affluent from the Honouliuli and Sand Island plants pose no danger to public health. However repeated testing by the EPA and the Department of Health tell a different story.

Neither of the plants’ discharges protects recreational use or marine life in the vicinity of the ocean outfalls,” the EPA said in a press release last year.

Robert Harris, director of the Sierra Club-Hawaii Chapter, believes the City and County of Honolulu will eventually be forced to make upgrades at the two facilities.

“I really do not see any way they can avoid not upgrading the sewage treatment,” said Harris, who believes the city could make use of federal stimulus money if plans to redesign the two plants were drawn up quickly.

The Sand Island wastewater plant produces 69 million gallons of primary treated sewage every day. The affluent is then pumped nearly 1.7 miles offshore at a depth of 240 feet.

The Honouliuli facility produces 31 million gallons of primary treated sewage per day that's pumped 1.5 miles offshore at depths of 200 feet.

Harris says testing has shown both of the outflows pose a potential hazard.

“You take organisms and you basically put it in the water coming out of the outflow and those organisms were dying,” he said. “There are concrete and specific issues where things are dying if they're in this water.”


Blumenfeld told Khon2 the EPA is willing to work with the city on a realistic time table to upgrade the two wastewater plants that won't overburden taxpayers.

“People have to pay bills,” he said. “They’re mounting up for families and this isn't a time that we want to increase those bills beyond the point that people have the ability to pay.”

Blumenfeld said he expects the EPA will soon reach an accord with the city over the issue of secondary treatment.

“Hopefully we're a few months away from reaching some kind of agreement.”

Have a news tip? Contact Andrew Pereira at 368-7273.

Honolulu residents and business owners will once again face sticker shock this summer as sewer fees increase yet again – this time by 15 percent.

The sewer fee base charge for residents will rise from $59.47 to $68.39 per month. The non-residential base rate, which currently stands at $53.49, will increase to $61.51 per month.

Usage rates, which are calculated on a per one thousand gallon basis, are also going up.

The rate increases take effect July 1 and marks the final chapter in a ten year rate schedule designed to raise capital for wastewater and storm water improvement projects.

In 1995, after challenges by the Sierra Club and other environmental groups, the city was forced to sign a consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that called for sewer infrastructure upgrades through a twenty year period.

http://specials.starbulletin.com/elections/2008/wp-content/uploads/2008/09//2008/09/mayor_hannemann.jpgThree years ago Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann warned sewer fees could go as high as $800 per month if the EPA mandated secondary treatment at the Sand Island and Honouliuli wastewater treatment plants under the federal Clean Water Act.

Hannemann has maintained the $1.2 billion worth of upgrades at the two plants are unnecessary, pointing to evidence from local scientists that it would provide little to no benefit to the environment.

On Monday the mayor and the city’s Environmental Services Director Tim Steinberger met with EPA Region IX Administrator Jared Blumenfeld to discuss the proposed upgrades at the two plants.

“We had a very productive meeting and we look forward to making further progress in our negations,” Hannemann said in a press release. The mayor added Blumenfeld would visit Honolulu later this month to “continue to the dialogue between the City and EPA.”

The federal agency has not said when it would issue its final ruling on the proposed upgrades at Sand Island and Honouliuli.


Honolulu Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi says Oahu continues to play catch-up with its sewer infrastructure after former Mayor Jeremy Harris raided more than $100 million from the city’s sewer fund to pay for nice-to-have projects like the beautification of Waikiki.

Kobayashi remember questioning the Harris administration about the legality of such transfers in 2002, her first year on the Council.

“I started going through the budget line-by-line and I said, ‘How come these things are being funded by the sewer fund?’”

Once Mayor Hannemann came into office in 2005, he immediately saw the need to begin an aggressive campaign of repairing and upgrading the island’s sewage infrastructure and pushed for further rate increases.

In the past five years Hannemann has spent $1.2 billion in sewer and wastewater infrastructure projects and has budgeted another $1.6 billion through the next six years.

However fee increases pushed by Hannemann in 2005 and 2007 were approved by the City Council during happier times, when Hawaii’s economy was booming.

Lowell Kalapa, the president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, says residents and businesses will be hard pressed to keep up with the latest sewer fee increase.

“A lot of businesses are struggling with increased taxes - the unemployment insurance tax (and) the possibility of the healthcare premiums going up. This is not going to be a pretty sight in the next two years.”

Kalapa believes the Council should consider shifting some of the burden of the next sewer fee increase to property taxes, that way businesses and residents could write-off some of the expense.

“At least the property tax is deductible,” said Kalapa, “whereas sewer fees are not.”


(March 15, 2010) --- Mayor Mufi Hannemann met today in San Francisco with the new EPA Region IX Administrator Jared Blumenfeld.

The meeting covered the City & County of Honolulu's Wastewater program and consent decree negotiations.

""We had a very productive meeting, and we look forward to making further progress in our negotiations," Hannemann said.

Since 2005 when Hannemann became mayor, the City has dedicated more than a billion dollars to its wastewater program. Another $1.6 billion in wastewater improvements is planned over the next five years.

"Repairing our collection system infrastructure has been a focal point of my administration," Mayor Hannemann said. "There's no doubt our City's sewer system is in better shape today than it was when I took office five years ago, and we'll continue to make strides to ensure we leave this place better than we found it."

Sewage spills, also called Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO), declined for the third consecutive year in 2009, according to data collected by the City and County of Honolulu's Department of Environmental Services (ENV).

SSOs in calendar year 2009 declined 17.3 percent compared to 2008. Last year, ENV recorded 101 total SSOs from gravity mains, lower laterals, pump stations, pretreatment facilities and force mains, compared to 122 in 2008.

Hannemann said that Administrator Blumenfeld plans to visit Honolulu later this month to continue the dialogue between the City and the EPA. At that time, Blumenfeld is expected to present the City & County of Honolulu with three EPA awards, including two Energy Star awards for efficiency at both the Fasi Municipal Building and Honolulu Hale, and the $499,000 EPA Climate Showcase Community Grant.
The city of Honolulu is facing serious issues with its aging sewer system. Much
of the sewer system is over 50 years old and it was not built to handle the large increase in population that has occurred over the past 50 years. In March of 2006, there was a break in the sewer system that dumped 48 million gallons of sewage into the ocean over a 6-day period (48 million gallons spill). As a result, the EPA revoked Honolulu's sewer exemption prompting repairs estimated to cost $300 million. The city may be required to invest large sums of money in upgrading the system to meet current federal guidelines. The city is projecting that they will raise the charges for sewer by 10% per year at least through 2015. A pending lawsuit may require these increases to continue beyond 2015. These issues will likely cause an increase in the rate that Honolulu residents payer pays for sewer.

Giant sewage spill fouls Ala Moana and surrounding spots; surfer dies

The big news amongst surfers and environmentalists on Oahu is the recent catastrophic raw sewage spill emanating from the Ala Wai Canal. The canal, which feeds smack dab into the lineup at Bowls, is literally defecating into the ocean. Over 50 million gallons of the putrid slosh is contaminating beaches and surf spots between Sand Island and Diamond Head, putting a skidding halt to all ocean activities except boating for weeks.

Some swimmers and surfers have chanced infection and ventured into the water. Reports are many are now suffering from gastrointestinal infections.

UPDATE: Oliver Johnson, the surfer who was exposed to the water, died on April 6th. It turns out that he was assaulted sometime after leaving Harbor Pub and either fell or was pushed into the water. HPD Homicide detectives have opened up a murder investigation now that Johnson has passed away. His immediate family from Florida are here and will likely take what's left of him back home for burial. All here send our condolences, and are sure we'll hear from them or their lawyers soon.

COVER UP?: A Waikiki surfer revealed yesterday that she was infected by the sewage spill after suffering a reef cut while surfing one day before warning signs went up. Lisa Kennedy remains hospitalized in Honolulu. Doctors have diagnosed her with three bacteria strains that they link directly with fecal compounds, so there is no doubt in this case. Here's the scary part; Kennedy claims that she was "discouraged" by hospital officials from speaking to the media about her illness. She did anyway, and went public with KHON2 (Fox affiliate). If there is indeed an conspiracy involving the City and HTA, there could be others who are sick, but haven't come forward. I'll keep you posted on the situation.
GOING NATIONAL: The EPA is calling this event the worst sewage spill in the nation's history(!), State and Federal officials are claiming that the City (Mayor Mufi Hanneman) neither sought nor was granted authorization for the dumping, and tourist advocate groups are threatening legal actions against all parties involved. It was revealed by an anonymous internal source that the city was advised 2 years ago that this particular 42 inch main would burst if it was not replaced soon.

The Ala Wai Canal is on the far left, with Bowls, Rockpiles, and Kaisers in the foreground. Waikiki Beach is just off the photo to the right. The sewage dump occurred behind the gaggle of hotels and is circling around to the ocean (pink line). Oliver Johnson fell into the water somewhere within the shaded boat slips just across the hotels (yellow dot). Photo: Hawaii Coastal Geology Group
The blame and counterblame has commenced.

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