EPA Awards Over $30 Million to the Pacific Territories for Environmental Protection

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded over $30 million as part of a yearly program that provides grants to Guam, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa for use in continuing environmental protection work and for improvements to drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

EPA LOGO“EPA’s funding enables the islands to advance their goals in the pursuit of clean air, water and land,” said Jared Blumenfeld, Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “As one example, the investment made in leak detection projects in all three territories has dramatically reduced drinking water losses, and saved over $1 million in energy costs.”

Guam EPA will be receiving $3.2 million, CNMI DEQ will be receiving $1.7 million, and the American Samoa EPA $1.8 million to support the operations of each environmental agency. The work done by the agencies include inspections, monitoring the safety of beaches and drinking water, permit writing, enforcement and other facets of their environmental protection programs.

Additionally, EPA provides drinking water and wastewater construction grants to improve the water supplies in each of the territories. The Guam Waterworks Authority will be receiving $8.2 million, CNMI’s Commonwealth Utilities Corp. will be receiving $6.9 million, and the American Samoa Power Authority $8.3 million.

Accomplishment highlights from previous funding include:

  • Improvements to the drinking water system in all three territories, including improved chlorination in Guam, increased water storage in CNMI, and an ongoing extension of the central system in American Samoa to remote villages.
  • EPA funding has contributed to the increased drinking water availability in Saipan, where 95% of the population now has access to 24-hour water (up from 75% in 2009).
  • Improvements to the wastewater collection and treatment systems in all three territories, including rehabilitation of a treatment plant in Saipan, improvements to the collection infrastructure in Guam, and ongoing extension of sewer lines in American Samoa.
  • EPA has funded the replacement of older wastewater pumps with newer energy efficient pumps and controls, saving the utilities hundreds of thousands of dollars in power bills in all three territories.

Organic Chemical Found on Walls of Kauai Water Tank

Department of Health

Recent samples taken from the inner wall of a Princeville water tank, part of a private water System on Kauai, have been confirmed to contain the organic chemical polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

The samples were tested as part of an ongoing investigation to determine a source for contamination previously announced in December of last year.

Intense and regular testing has confirmed that the community’s drinking water remains safe. However, the source of the contamination remains unclear. Efforts to remove the contamination are advancing under the Department of Health’s supervision.

PCBs do not dissolve well in water. Extensive monitoring performed on the drinking water distribution system has determined that the chemical is not in Princeville’s drinking water. Water served to the public continues to be safe. “The Department continues to sample Princeville drinking water.

We have confirmed that PCBs are not reaching people’s homes,” said Gary Gill, Deputy Director for Environmental Health. “Our Safe Drinking Water Branch is working closely with Princeville Utility Company to assure that their work to fix this problem will continue to protect the public.”

On December 14, 2012, the Department of Health (DOH) announced that contaminants had been found in a water reservoir in Princeville, Kauai.

DOH and the Princeville Utilities Company Inc. (PUCI), owner and operator of the private Princeville water system, have taken immediate action to maintain the quality of the water to protect the health of residents who use it. The water system serves a population of about 2,200 people on Kauai’s north shore.

On March 14, 2013, DOH learned that scrapings from the inner wall of the Princeville water tank were confirmed to contain PCBs. Aroclor 1254, one component of PCBs, was found at 2600 parts per million (ppm). Another component, Aroclor 1260, was also found at 2100 ppm. The caulking on the outside of the tank was also tested and was found to contain PCBs.

Concrete caulking compounds containing PCBs were sometimes used in expansion joints in concrete structures erected prior to 1980. The Princeville water tank was built in 1971. Commercial production of PCBs ended in 1977 because of health effects associated with exposure. In 1979, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of PCBs, however, PCBs may still be present in many pre-1979 products.

PUCI, with DOH approval, has decided to take the tank out of service to clean it. PUCI will remove an oily residue from the inner tank wall to help ensure that the chemicals do not leach into drinking water.

PUCI will install three new temporary 20,000 gallon water tanks to bypass the 1.5 million gallon tank.

During the bypass operation, residents will be urged to conserve water.

For more information on PUCI’s mitigation measures, contact Mike Loo of PUCI at (808) 826-6100.

The DOH has directed PUCI to continue weekly water testing to determine if PCBs are present in the distribution system and in sample water skimmed from the tank water surface. These samples are sent to CalScience Laboratory in California for testing; the CalScience Laboratory is certified by the DOH to run PCB analyses.

The DOH is also conducting concurrent monitoring twice per month to ensure that PCBs have not entered the drinking water distribution system.

The federal and state Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for PCBs in drinking water is 0.5 parts per billion at the compliance sampling point, which is immediately after the 1.5 million gallon water tank. This standard is set to avoid health risks based on a lifetime of consuming water containing that level of contaminant. PCBs are a group of organic chemicals formerly used in the United States in hydraulic fluids, plasticizers, adhesives, fire retardants, and de-dusting agents. To date, the Princeville water system is in compliance with federal and state PCB standards for drinking water.

Organic Chemical Found in Kauai Water Tank – State Officials Taking Action to Protect Purity of Water

An oily sheen containing a chemical contaminant has been found in a drinking water reservoir in Princeville on Kauai. Results from extensive laboratory testing have determined water distributed from the drinking water system does not pose a health threat and continues to be safe. The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) and the Princeville Utilities Company Inc. (PUCI) are taking immediate action to protect the purity of the water and the health of residents who depend on it.

Princeville

On Oct. 16, following routine sampling of drinking water systems across the state, DOH found that minute trace amounts of the organic chemical Aroclor 1254, a polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), may have been present in a Princeville water system tank on Kauai. The water system tank serves a population of about 1,700 people.

The DOH directed PUCI, owner and operator of the Princeville water system, to conduct testing to determine if PCBs were present and to identify the possible source of contamination.

PUCI sent water samples collected on Oct. 23 and 24 to CalScience Laboratory in California for testing. PCBs were not detected at the tank’s compliance sampling point where water exits at the bottom of the tank, nor at the two wellheads that supply the tank. The DOH collected and tested weekly samples at the compliance sampling point and throughout the distribution system Nov. 14, 19 and 27 and Dec. 4. No PCBs were detected in the samples analyzed by the state Laboratories Division.

“Fortunately, our follow up testing indicates that PCBs are not found in the water that reaches people’s homes,” said Gary Gill, Deputy Director for Environmental Health. “Our Safe Drinking Water Branch is maintaining active surveillance of the distribution system and will continue to monitor and test the water being served to consumers to ensure that the public is protected.”

While PCBs were not detected in the two wellheads, at the tank’s compliance sampling point, nor within the distribution system, the DOH on Nov. 8 learned that PCBs were detected in an oily sheen sample skimmed from the surface of the tank water at 18 parts per billion (ppb). Since water exits from the bottom of the tank and PCBs do not dissolve well in water, this does not represent a health threat. As a precaution, additional water testing is continuing and PUCI is removing the oily sheen from the tank water surface. On Nov. 30, subsequent sampling and testing confirmed the presence of PCBs in the surface sheen at 1.38 ppb. Sampling on Dec. 6 revealed the concentration of PCBs in a skim sample was 1.4 ppb. For more information on PUCI’s mitigation measures, contact Mike Loo at (808) 826-6100.

The source of the oily sheen is still undetermined. Upon findings of PCBs in the oily sheen sample, PUCI immediately took Well #1, an oil-lubed well, out of service. PUCI tested previously used and currently used pre-lube oils used to lubricate Well #1. On Nov. 30, PUCI confirmed that neither of these oils contains PCBs. Well #2 is water-lubed and therefore was not at issue.

The federal and state Maximum Contaminant Level for PCBs is 0.5 ppb at the compliance sampling point. The standard is set to avoid health risks based on a lifetime of consuming water containing that level of contaminant. PCBs are a group of organic chemicals formerly used in the United States in hydraulic fluids, plasticizers, adhesives, fire retardants, and de-dusting agents. PCBs do not dissolve well in water. To date, the Princeville water system is in compliance with federal and state PCB standards for drinking water.

Department of Health Settles Enforcement Case With Koya USA Corporation – Mahalo Hawai’i Deep Sea Water

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) has agreed to settle its enforcement action against Koyo USA Corporation (Koyo) filed in September 2011. Koyo has agreed to pay the department a total of $2 million in two installments. The first $1 million payment was received by DOH on May 2, 2011. The second and final payment is due to the department no later than August 31, 2013.

DOH issued a Notice of Violation and Order against Koyo for utilizing an unapproved manufacturing process for its bottled water from July 7, 2006 to May 19, 2011. Koyo is required to adhere to a specific process in making bottled water from the ocean. Koyo’s product is branded as Mahalo Hawai‘i Deep Sea and has been marketed to consumers in Japan, Hawai‘i and elsewhere.

No recall or embargo of the Koyo bottled water product was initiated by DOH. Test results from independent laboratories and the state laboratory confirmed that consumption of the affected bottled water product did not pose an immediate and/or substantial risk to human health. Koyo performed a disinfection process prior to their water product being sold.

“The Koyo company staff and leadership have been cooperative in correcting the unpermitted drinking water filtration process,” said Gary Gill, Deputy Director for Environmental Health. “The settlement payments are being dedicated to support the department’s drinking water, food safety and laboratory programs.”

Koyo remains permitted by the DOH to filter ocean water at its Kona facility and produce a bottled drinking water product.

The DOH Food and Drug Branch protects public health by ensuring food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices and related consumer products within the state are safe, effective and properly labeled. The DOH Safe Drinking Water Branch monitors drinking water quality and regulates water systems throughout the islands. The state laboratory tests water and food for contamination and performs a wide range of public health support functions.  These programs and others within the department work together to ensure the health and safety of the people of Hawai‘i.

County Dedicates Spigots to Provide Clean, Safe Water

Media Release:

Mayor Billy Kenoi joined community members in Wai `ohinu today to celebrate the opening of six new or improved water spigot facilities across the County of Hawai `i. These facilities offer residents safe and efficient locations where they can draw clean, potable water for household use. The dedication ceremony was held at the Wai `ohinu Solid Waste Transfer Station in Kā‘u.

The six new or improved spigot facilities first opened on Thursday, August 11 in North Hilo, South Kona, Puna, and Kā‘u to accommodate a high demand for potable water.

Thousands of rural residents in the County of Hawai `i are served by household water catchment systems, and many rely on county-operated water spigots to obtain safe drinking water. The installation or improvement of the county water spigot facilities is a project by the county Department of Water Supply and the county Department of Public Works.

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“We are very proud of this project, which will make it easier for our rural residents to obtain clean, safe drinking water,” Mayor Kenoi said. “We want to thank all of our partners who helped to make this project possible.”

The project cost about $1.1 million, included planning, design, and construction. A grant from the Environmental Protection Agency funded 64 percent ($719,000) of the project, and the County of Hawai’i paid 36 percent or $402,000. The contractor was Ludwig Contractors Inc., which finished 90 days ahead of schedule.

Spigot facilities at six locations comply with the federal Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requirements.

The new facilities are the Waī‘ohinu Solid Waste Transfer Station on Kauila Road, in Kā‘u; in Nānāwale Estates subdivision in Puna; and in South Kona next to the Hōnaunau Rodeo Arena.

Spigot outlets and additional parking were added at the Pāpa‘aloa gymnasium in North Hilo; and at Kurtistown Ball Park in Puna; and at Keā‘au Solid Waste Transfer Station in Puna.