EPA Requires Matheson Tri-Gas Kapolei to Close Illegal Cesspools

Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced an agreement with Matheson Tri-Gas to close three cesspools at its Kapolei facility on Oahu.

Click to read the consent agreement and final order

In May 2016, EPA inspected the Matheson Tri-Gas facility, a commercial gas supply company in the Campbell Industrial Park, and found two large-capacity cesspools (LCCs) in use. EPA regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act required closure of all existing LCCs by April 5, 2005.

Matheson, which acquired the facility in 2015, will close the two LCCs and convert to a septic system. The company will pay a civil penalty of $88,374 for violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act and spend $50,000 on a supplemental environmental project to close an on-site small-capacity cesspool. Matheson expects to complete the closure of all three cesspools and convert to a septic system by the end of 2017.

“Matheson has agreed to not only close and replace its LCCs with approved systems, but will also close an additional small-capacity cesspool at its facility,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “EPA will continue to focus on closing illegal cesspools to protect Hawaii’s drinking water and coastal water resources.”

Cesspools collect and discharge untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens and harmful chemicals can contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean. Groundwater provides 99 percent of all domestic water in Hawaii, where cesspools are used more widely than in any other state. Since EPA banned LCCs in 2005, over 3,000 large-capacity cesspools have been closed state-wide, many through voluntary compliance. The ban does not apply to individual cesspools connected to single-family homes.

For more information and to submit comments on this specific agreement visit:

https://www.epa.gov/uic/hawaii-cesspools-administrative-orders#oahu

For more information on the large-capacity cesspool ban and definition of a large-capacity cesspool, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/uic/cesspools-hawaii

EPA Requires County of Hawaii to Close Large Cesspools – Reaches Agreement with Aloha Island Mart

Agency also reaches agreement with Aloha Island Mart in Captain Cook over LCC violation

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced an agreement with the County of Hawaii to close seven large capacity cesspools (LCCs) that serve the Pahala and Naalehu communities. The County will replace the cesspools with wastewater treatment systems approved by the Hawaii Department of Health.

In a separate action, EPA reached an agreement with Aloha Petroleum, Ltd. requiring the company to pay a civil penalty of $57,500 for its operation of an LCC at its Aloha Island Mart convenience store and gas station in Captain Cook on the Big Island. EPA found that Aloha Island Mart operated an illegal LCC until 2014. Aloha Petroleum has since closed the non-compliant cesspool and replaced it with an approved wastewater system.

Click to read the consent agreement

An LCC is a cesspool that serves multiple residential dwellings or a commercial facility with the capacity to serve 20 or more people per day. Cesspools collect and discharge waterborne pollutants like untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens can contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean. LCCs were banned under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act in April 2005.

The agreement with the County of Hawaii requires the closure of two LCCs serving the Pahala community, three LCCs serving the Naalehu community, and two LCCs serving the Pahala Elderly Apartments. Combined, the seven cesspools serve about 280 households.

“EPA and the County of Hawaii are taking important steps to close these banned cesspools and replace them with modern wastewater treatment systems,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “These actions will protect Hawaii’s drinking water and coastal resources, as we seek to modernize Big Island water infrastructure.”

In the Pahala and Naalehu communities, the County has developed closure and replacement plans for the cesspools. Newly-constructed secondary wastewater treatment facilities and updated collection systems will come online in 2021 for Pahala and in 2022 for Naalehu. Cesspools serving the Pahala Elderly Apartments will be closed by September 2018 and replaced with septic systems. The agreement also includes specific reporting requirements and allows for stipulated penalties should the county fail to meet agreed-upon deadlines.

Construction of the new treatment and disposal facilities will be financed in part with federal grants and low-interest loans from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan program. Under the agreement, an additional 95 properties in the Pahala and Naalehu communities not currently served by the LCCs will also be connected to the new county sewer systems.

Cesspools are used more widely in Hawaii than in any other state, despite the fact that 95 percent of all drinking water in Hawaii comes from groundwater sources. over 3,000 large capacity cesspools have been closed state-wide, many through voluntary compliance.

For more information on this specific agreement visit: https://www.epa.gov/uic/hawaii-cesspools-administrative-orders#hawaii

For more information on the large capacity cesspool ban and definition of a large capacity cesspool, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/uic/cesspools-hawaii

Maps of Cesspools on Hawaii Island and Hilo – 90,000 Banned Statewide By 2050

Last week the Environmental Protection Agency required the County of Hawaii to close 7 large cesspools here on the Big Island of Hawai.

Hawaii House Bill 1244 has passed and is headed to Governor Ige to sign into law.

Cesspools on the Island of Hawaii.

The bill as written would ban the currently 90,000 cesspools that are already here in Hawaii (50,000 of those on the Big Island alone) by the year 2050.

Cesspools in Hilo (I did not zoom into each TMK property… I just checked to make sure I was in the clear!)

Hawaii House Bill 1244:

According to the Hawaii Department of Health:

Cesspools are substandard systems.  They don’t treat wastewater, they merely dispose of it. Cesspools concentrate the wastewater in one location, often deep within the ground and in direct contact with groundwater, causing groundwater contamination.  This groundwater flows into drinking water wells, streams and the ocean, harming public health and the environment, including beaches and coral reefs.

 What are cesspools?

  • Cesspools are little more than holes in the ground that discharge raw, untreated human waste.
  • Cesspools can contaminate ground water, drinking water sources, streams and oceans with disease-causing pathogens, algae-causing nutrients, and other harmful substances.
  • Untreated wastewater from cesspools contains pathogens such as bacteria, protozoa and viruses that can cause gastroenteritis, Hepatitis A, conjunctivitis, leptospirosis, salmonellosis and cholera.

 How many cesspools do we have in Hawai`i?

  •  There are approximately 90,000 cesspools in the State, with nearly 50,000 located on the Big Island,  almost 14,000 on Kauai, over  12,000 on Maui, over 11,000 on Oahu and over 1,400 on Molokai.
  •  Hawai`i is the only state in the US that still allows construction of new cesspools.
  •  Approximately 800 new cesspools are approved for construction in Hawai`i each year.

How many cesspools pose a risk to our water resources and how do they impact our environment?

  •  There are 87,000 cesspools that pose a risk to our water resources.
  •  There are approximately 6,700 cesspools that are located within 200 feet of a perennial stream channel  throughout the State.  There  are approximately 31,000 cesspools that are located within the perennial  watersheds on the islands of Hawai`i, Kauai, Maui, and  Molokai.
  •  Cesspools in Hawai`i release approximately 55 million gallons of untreated sewage into the ground each  day.
  •  Cesspools in Hawai`i release as much as 23,700 pounds of nitrogen and nearly 6,000 pounds of  phosphorus into the ground each  day each day, which can stimulate undesirable algae growth, degrade  water quality, and impact coral reefs.

Click here to see if your property needs certification or is near a cesspool: Act 120 Eligibility Cesspool Finder

EPA Awards Funding to Replace Buses on Big Island

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a total of $6,329,500 in Diesel Emission Reduction Act funds to public and private partners in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and American Samoa. EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator, Alexis Strauss made the announcement today at a meeting of the international Commission for Environmental Cooperation in Long Beach, California. The funds will be used to retrofit and replace old, polluting diesel vehicles and equipment, including school buses, trucks, agriculture and port equipment, and generators.

The Diesel Emission Reduction Act program is administered by the EPA’s West Coast Collaborative, a clean air partnership comprised of EPA’s Pacific Southwest and Pacific Northwest Regions, which leverages public and private funds to reduce emissions from the most polluting diesel sources in impacted communities.

“By promoting clean diesel technologies, we can improve air quality and human health while supporting green jobs in disadvantaged communities,” said Ms. Strauss. “Public-private partnerships like the West Coast Collaborative are leading the way on reducing harmful diesel emissions and advancing domestic economic development.”

The 2016 grants will fund the following projects:

California Air Resources Board (CARB): CARB was awarded a $539,412 grant to be combined with $371,168 in state funding to retrofit 41 heavy-duty diesel school buses operating throughout California.

Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD): BAAQMD was awarded a $1,420,263 grant to be combined with a BAAQMD contribution of $4,278,662 to replace one older locomotive and two Tier 0 switcher locomotives with cleaner Tier 4 locomotives operating in the San Francisco Bay Area.

San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District (SJVUAPCD): SJVUAPCD was awarded a $900,000 grant to be combined with $4,789,626 in local funding to replace 41 model year 1994-2006 Class 5 through 8 heavy-duty diesel delivery trucks operating in the San Joaquin Valley with ones powered by 2015 or newer model year engines.

South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD): SCAQMD was awarded a $523,809 grant to be combined with $2,229,000 in local funding to replace one pre-model year 1973 diesel switch locomotive with a new cleaner Tier 4 diesel locomotive that will be operating at the Port of Long Beach.

Port of Long Beach: The City of Long Beach Harbor Department was awarded a $1,469,818 grant to be combined with $1,957,164 in funds from the Long Beach Container Terminal, Inc. to replace five existing diesel powered yard tractors with electric automated guided vehicles used for handling cargo at the Port of Long Beach.

Port of Los Angeles: The City of Los Angeles Harbor Department was awarded a $800,000 grant to be combined with $2,214,000 in funds from APM Terminals and TraPac, LLC. to replace 16 yard tractors with cleaner Tier 4 models and repower two heavy lifts with Tier 4 engines used for handling cargo at the Port of Los Angeles.

Arizona’s Maricopa County Air Quality Department (MCAQD): MCAQD was awarded a $217,069 grant to install Diesel Oxidation Catalyst retrofits on 37 heavy-duty public works vehicles operating in Arizona. The project will be implemented through a partnership the Maricopa County Equipment Services Department and other participating fleets.

Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP): NDEP was awarded a $193,627 grant to be combined with $580,881 in local funding to replace four Class 5 legacy diesel vehicles with new vehicles powered by model year 2013 or newer engines. The project will also retrofit 15 Class 5 vehicles with diesel oxidation catalysts and switch them from ultra-low sulfur diesel to renewable diesel fuel.

Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH): HDOH was awarded a $194,787 grant to be combined with $584,361 in local funding to replace two Class 5 legacy diesel transit buses operating on the Island of Hawaii.

American Samoa: The American Samoa Power Authority was awarded a $70,715 grant to repower an existing diesel-powered stationary generator with a clean, 1.4 megawatt photovoltaic solar system and a Tier 3 275 kilowatt backup diesel-powered generator on the Island of Ta’u. The system will also include 6 megawatt hours of batteries, allowing island residents to continually utilize the renewable energy on days when the sun is not shining.

The projects selected today will result in cleaner diesel or electric engines that operate in economically disadvantaged communities whose residents suffer from higher-than-average instances of asthma, heart, and lung disease. These actions are estimated to reduce emissions of oxides of nitrogen by 1,315 tons, fine particulate matter by 167 tons, hydrocarbons by 71 tons, carbon monoxide by 541 tons, and carbon dioxide by 32,830 tons over the lifetime of the affected engines.

This funding is part of U.S. EPA’s Diesel Emission Reduction Act fiscal year 2016 allocation that includes engine replacements, idle reduction and retrofit technologies to clean up a variety of older diesel engines. Since 2008, the program has awarded more than 700 grants across the country in 600 communities. These projects have reduced emissions from more than 60,000 engines. Reducing particulate matter emissions has important public health and air quality benefits, including the reduction of soot and black carbon.

To learn more about all of this year’s West Coast Collaborative DERA projects, including those awarded in the Pacific Southwest, please visit: http://www.westcoastcollaborative.org.

For more information about EPA’s National Clean Diesel campaign and the awarded DERA projects nationally, visit www.epa.gov/cleandiesel.

EPA Closes Pflueger Stormwater Case After Successful Restoration of Kauai Property

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the successful conclusion of its case against James Pflueger for construction activities that damaged his former property and the beach and coral reefs at Pila’a on Kauai. The consent decree settling the Clean Water Act violations was closed after Pflueger stabilized and restored the slopes and streams.

Pflueger Stormwater Case“Thanks to the work completed under this settlement, this once-degraded land has a healthy population of native trees and shrubs and restored stream channels,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “With continued care by the new owners, these restoration efforts can be sustained for the future.”

EPA initiated its case after Pflueger conducted extensive grading and construction at the 378-acre coastal site without obtaining necessary Clean Water Act permits. Those activities included excavating a hillside to expose a 40-foot vertical road cut, grading a coastal plateau, creating new access roads to the coast, and dumping dirt and rock into three perennial streams. As a result, massive discharges of sediment-laden stormwater flowed to the ocean at Pila’a Bay in November 2001.

The settlement required Pflueger to build a wall to stabilize the road cut adjacent to the shoreline, remove dam material in streams, install erosion controls on roadways and trails, terrace slopes to slow runoff, use native plants to control erosion, and control invasive plants and animals on the property. He was also required to reconstruct natural rock-lined stream beds and reestablish native plants along the banks.

The 2006 stormwater settlement was the largest for federal Clean Water Act violations at a single site, by a single landowner, in the United States. Pflueger paid $2 million in penalties to the State of Hawaii and the United States, and was expected to spend approximately $5.3 million to conduct the required restoration efforts.

The State of Hawaii was a co-plaintiff in EPA’s case against Pflueger, and the settlement was joined by the Limu Coalition and Kilauea neighborhood organizations, which had also filed a lawsuit against Pflueger.

EPA and local community organizations involved in the settlement conducted oversight inspections throughout a ten-year restoration effort that was slowed by funding obstacles and the necessity of adapting the restoration projects to changing field conditions.

EPA Cites Honolulu Wood Treating for Producing and Selling Mislabeled Pesticide

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a settlement with Honolulu Wood Treating of Kapolei, Oahu, which will pay a $33,750 penalty for producing and selling a mislabeled pesticide on five occasions in 2013 and 2014 under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

Honolulu Wood TreatmentThe Hawaii Department of Agriculture conducted inspections for EPA at the company’s facility in 2014 and 2015 and referred this case to EPA for follow-up enforcement. During the inspections, the Department found that Clear-Bor F.T., a product used to protect wood from termites and wood decay fungus, did not meet federal label requirements. Specifically, the first aid information and EPA Establishment number were incorrect. The company has since fully corrected the product label.

“Mislabeled pesticides put people at risk,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Every company must ensure its products are properly labeled to protect the health and safety of those who use them.”

EPA requires companies to revise the first aid statements on their pesticide product labels to include medically up-to-date language. The instructions on the non-compliant containers of Clear-Bor F.T. would  have likely interfered with proper medical treatment, as the label instructed the user to “induce vomiting by touching back of throat with finger” in case of ingestion. Current medical first aid instructions no longer recommend inducing vomiting.

The required EPA Establishment number was also found to be incorrect for the product.  This number is used to identify where the product was last produced. It is crucial to maintaining product integrity, as production includes formulating, packaging, labeling and any alteration of the product prior to sale.

For more information about the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, please visit: http://www2.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-federal-insecticide-fungicide-and-rodenticide-act

EPA Awards $80,000 to Educate Hawaiian Students on Local Watersheds

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded an environmental education grant of $80,000 to the Pacific American Foundation located in Kaneohe, Hawaii.

pacific american foundation

The goal of the program, Wisdom of the Watershed, is to improve environmental science education by increasing the interest of Hawaii’s youth in science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines through culturally-relevant curriculum and meaningful outdoor watershed educational experiences.

The program will help sixth through twelfth grade students explore and compare three different watersheds in Hawaii with different land management practices. Students will take field trips partnered with research scientists and will measure water quality in the watersheds using scientific instrumentation. The microbial and sediment environments will also be sampled. Students will analyze the collected data and engage in service learning projects to improve environmental quality throughout the watersheds.

“Hawaii’s watersheds are unique,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “The Pacific American Foundation will teach the next generation of scientists to protect and manage these critical natural resources.”

“The Pacific American Foundation’s program, Wisdom of the Watershed, provides environmental educational by engaging students, in current, ongoing environmental research through partnerships with University researchers, graduate and undergraduate students, and public and private sector businesses, thus providing relevance in STEM learning and a profound understanding of both the scientific and engineering processes,” said Derek Esibill, Program Director of the Wisdom of the Watershed Program. “Concurrently, the program engages teachers by tailoring their curriculum to enable students to participate in ridge to reef expeditions. These expeditions use cultural, place-based research projects to create meaningful outdoor experiences, increasing the interest of Hawai`i’s youth to pursue pathways in STEM careers.”

EPA’s Environmental Education Local Grants Program supports environmental education projects that increase the public’s awareness and provide them with the skills to take responsible actions to protect the environment. The EPA’s Pacific Southwest Regional Office received over 80 applications this year, and the Pacific American Foundation project is one of seven projects in the Pacific Southwest Region that will receive an environmental education grant.

For more information on Environmental Education Grants, please visit: www2.epa.gov/education/environmental-education-ee-grants

For more information on the Pacific American Foundation, please visit: www.pacificamerican.foundation

EPA Honors Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as Federal Green Challenge Winner

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park with the EPA’s Federal Green Challenge Regional Overall Achievement award as part of its efforts to encourage federal departments to reduce their environmental footprints through sustainable practices.

A park ranger recycles cardboard

A park ranger recycles cardboard

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, located on Hawai‘i Island is one of the most biologically diverse landscapes in the world. Located nearly 2,500 miles from the nearest continental land mass, the park stretches from the summit of Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet down to sea level. It encompasses two of the world’s most active volcanoes, and attracts more than 1.6 million visitors a year.

“We applaud National Park Service staff for leading the way towards zero waste, and educating the millions of visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “This unique landscape deserves protection, and that starts with the commitment by the federal employees who work there.”

“We are extremely honored to receive this level of recognition for our climate-friendly efforts,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “Our staff is dedicated to implementing environmentally responsible practices, and we encourage our visitors and park partners to do the same,” she said.

The park had top regional achievements in the Federal Green Challenge Waste and Purchasing target areas, increasing recycling by 167 percent to achieve an overall recycling rate of 76 percent, while decreasing copy paper purchases by 89 percent. In addition, 95 percent of its cleaning products met Environmental Preferable Purchasing criteria.

Not only does Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park walk their talk behind the scenes, but park employees reach out to the community and visitors throughout the year through programs, exhibits and presentations on the values and importance of being climate friendly and sustainable.

The park actively works to reduce their environmental footprint in all six Federal Green Challenge target areas: energy, water, waste, electronics, purchasing and transportation.

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is home to Hawaii’s largest public rainwater catchment system that stores 5.3 million gallons of water. The water is treated, filtered with cartridge and sand filters, and disinfected to supply water to 56 areas throughout the park. Water bottle refilling stations, posters, and sale of refillable stainless steel water bottles educate the public to “Step Away from the Plastic.”

In addition, the park’s Visitor Emergency Operations Center, which opened in 2011, earned a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council – and is currently the only federal building in Hawai‘i to receive LEED Platinum certification. The 4,896-square-foot building is powered by photovoltaic panels and is constructed from mostly recycled or reused materials.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has made more great strides in conserving energy. Park rangers ride electrically powered “Eco Bikes” to their programs along the Kīlauea summit, saving fossil fuels and parking spaces. The Kīlauea Visitor Center features special yellow LED lighting to conserve energy and keep night skies dark. Solar panels generate renewable energy, and electric and alternative fuel vehicles further reduce energy and transportation-related emissions.

The Federal Green Challenge is a national effort challenging federal agencies to lead by example in reducing the Federal Government’s environmental impacts. In 2014, more than 400 participating facilities, representing nearly 1.3 million federal employees, “walked the talk” in various target areas and reduced their environmental footprint, which in many cases also resulted in significant cost savings. In EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region, $3,486,990 was saved through reductions in energy, purchasing, transportation and waste.

EPA Awards $200,000 to Children’s Defense Fund – Will Advance Environmental Stewardship on the Big Island

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded an environmental education grant of $200,000 to the Children’s Defense Fund for their “Mauka to Makai” project designed to improve environmental education in their summer learning centers and partner schools on the Big Island.
EPA LOGOThe “Mauka to Makai” (Mountain to Sea) project will incorporate environmental themes across all core and non-core academic subjects with an emphasis on resource management and habitat restoration.

“We’re pleased to be part of an environmental education effort highlighting flora and fauna found nowhere else on Earth,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “The “Mauka to Makai” stewardship will increase the protection of Hawaiian ecosystems from threats like invasive species, climate change, and habitat loss.”

Using a combination of student learning experiences, professional development for classroom educators, and strengthened partnerships linking public schools and local environmental agencies, the project will implement an environmental education model to increase community-wide knowledge of important environmental issues and foster the skills needed to help students, educators, families and the community make decisions about environmental responsibility and stewardship. The Mauka to Makai project aims to increase environmental knowledge on the Big Island by educating more than 7,000 students, providing professional development to over 100 educators, and supporting community projects through sub-awards.

The larger goal is to make the Mauka to Makai a model program that can be replicated across the nation with local partners and national experts. The project can be replicated with a similar focus on land to water resource issues or its focus can change with geographic location to highlight the regional environmental priorities of any given area.

The EPA Environmental Education Model Grants Program supports environmental education projects that increase the public’s awareness about environmental issues and provide them with the skills to take responsible actions to protect the environment. The EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Office received over 80 applications this year, and the Mauka to Makai project is one of two projects in the Pacific Southwest Region that received an environmental education grant.

Hawaii Missed Opportunities to Improve Drinking Water Infrastructure

Millions of dollars in federal funds intended for drinking water projects in Hawaii and four other states have sat unspent, according to a federal report.

The report, issued July 16, follows one in 2011 in which the EPA's OIG said the DWSRF program was not doing enough to find water systems that weren't compliant with regulations and could benefit from the program. The EPA provides the DWSRF funds to the states.  Click to view report

The report, issued July 16, follows one in 2011 in which the EPA’s OIG said the DWSRF program was not doing enough to find water systems that weren’t compliant with regulations and could benefit from the program. The EPA provides the DWSRF funds to the states. Click to view report

The Office of Inspector General for the Environmental Protection Agency said it found that five states reviewed — Missouri, California, Connecticut, Hawaii and New Mexico — have $231 million in unspent balances above the goal level in the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which provides low-interest loans for cities, towns and local water districts to make drinking water infrastructure improvements.

We found that the EPA and the five states we reviewed took many actions to reduce DWSRF unliquidated balances, but those actions have not reduced DWSRF unliquidated balances to the goal of below 13 percent of the cumulative federal capitalization grants awarded.

For the period we examined the five states reviewed — California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Missouri and New Mexico — executed small numbers of loans each year and did not maximize the use of all DWSRF resources, including capitalization grant awards. State programs reviewed were not adequately projecting the DWSRF resources that would be available in the future to enable the states to anticipate the amount of projects needed to be ready for loan execution in a given year.

As a result, $231 million of capitalization grant funds remained idle, loans were not issued, and communities were not able to implement needed drinking water improvements.

We also noted that states’ project lists included in the capitalization grant application —called fundable lists —did not reflect projects that would be funded in the current year and overestimated the number of projects that will receive funding.

Less than one-third of the projects on the fundable lists we reviewed resulted in executed DWSRF loans during the current grant year.

We found that, generally, these states did not have a consistent “ready-to-proceed” definition.

When projects are not ready to proceed, expected environmental benefits are delayed.

Because states use the fundable lists to justify their annual capitalization grants, the fundable lists should communicate to the EPA and the public the projects that will be funded with taxpayer money.

Recommendations and Planned Corrective Actions

  • We recommend that the Assistant Administrator for Water require states with unliquidated obligations that exceed the Office of Water’s 13-percent-cutoff goal to project future cash flows to ensure funds are expended as efficiently as possible.
  • We also recommend that the Assistant Administrator develop guidance for states on what projects are to be included on the fundable lists and require regions, when reviewing capitalization grant applications, to ensure states are complying with the guidance.

The EPA agreed to take sufficient corrective actions on most of the recommendations.  The EPA still needs to take steps to ensure states have adopted the EPA’s guidance on the definition of “ready to proceed.

Molasses Spill Closes Keehi Lagoon

Effective today, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has closed Keehi Lagoon to commercial and recreational ocean activities – including fishing and canoe paddling – for public safety due to impacts of Monday’s molasses spill in nearby Honolulu harbor. Warning signs are being posted by DLNR and the Hawaii Department of Health.

Molasses Sharks

“We are asking the public’s cooperation to keep out these waters for their wellbeing as conditions are unsafe for public activity due to risks of attracting ocean predators, as well as the possibility for contamination due to decayed marine life and bacteria,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson. “We are working with the Department of Health to post warning signs along the shores of Keehi Lagoon, small boat harbor and west side of Sand Island nearest Keehi channel. Our officers will also patrol the area to warn the public to remain out of these waters until water conditions are safe again.”

The closure will affect two permitted commercial thrillcraft (jet ski) operations in Keehi Lagoon, Aloha Jetski and Diamond Head Parasails and Water Sports. These companies will not be able to continue renting jetskis to clients to use in the lagoon jetski riding area.

“The operators understand the reasons why we are closing them for the time being,” said Aila. “They are able to make a claim to Matson for lost revenues.”

DLNR’s Division of Boating and Ocean Rcreation (DOBOR) is also restricting any recreational use of thrill craft in Keehi Lagoon and the designated riding area off the reef runway. DOBOR staff is reaching out to canoe clubs that launch from Sand Island State Recreation Area, and has also contacted the ILH regarding a planned kayak event scheduled tomorrow at Keehi Lagoon.

 

Senator Mazie Hirono Details How Climate Change is Already Having a Significant Impact on Hawaii

Senator Mazie K. Hirono warned that climate change is already having a significant impact on Hawaii and without coordinated government action will greatly harm the state’s well-being in the future during a hearing held by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Hirono Climate Change

At the hearing, titled “Climate Change: It’s Happening Now,” climate scientists and other experts testified on how climate change is already having an effect on U.S. weather patterns which in turn is leading to more frequent extreme weather and is negatively impacting communities and industries. This was Hirono’s first hearing as a member of the committee since being tapped temporarily to fill the vacancy left after New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg’s death.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/cpo5WSR1XRA]

“Climate change is the great challenge of our time. In Hawaii, we are already seeing the impact of climate change—both on land and in the ocean that surrounds us,” Hirono testified. “Rising ocean temperatures, sea level rise, and ocean acidification pose serious risks to our economy and communities. For example, the sea level has risen in Hawaii at rate of 0.6 inches per decade over the past century. Research indicates that sea level may increase by 3 feet by the end of the century. This means that areas like Waikiki—a critical driver of Hawaii’s tourism economy—are likely to face serious flooding if sea level rise intensifies.”

Hirono noted that while Hawaii has seen a decrease in overall rainfall that it depends on for fresh water over the past twenty years, the state has seen a large increase in very heavy downpours that have caused major flooding. She detailed how the State of Hawaii is already taking action to respond to climate change but that national and global efforts are needed to truly address the problem.

“Hawaii has taken an aggressive approach toward addressing climate change. We have passed state laws limiting greenhouse gas emissions, promoting clean energy and energy efficiency, and a law to address climate change adaptation. These efforts are forward-looking, but support on the federal level is needed,” Hirono said.

Mazie Hirono speaks with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

Mazie Hirono speaks with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

During the hearing, Hirono also questioned Reinsurance Association of America President Frank Nutter about how insurance companies are dealing with the increased threat of major weather events that climate change is causing. Nutter testified that the increasing severity of storms is causing rates to go up, especially in communities prone to flooding. Hirono cited the cautionary example of Hurricane Iniki, which caused such severe damage that the Hawaii government was forced to create the Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund when insurance companies stopped writing and renewing hurricane insurance policies in Hawaii.

Hirono also voted today to confirm Gina McCarthy, President Obama’s nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency.

“I am glad that my colleagues finally voted to confirm Gina McCarthy as EPA Administrator. McCarthy has a long record of fighting for cleaner air and energy efficiency, and she will serve as an important leader in our nation’s fight against climate change,” Hirono said after the vote.

EPA Orders Two Honolulu Companies To Correct Stormwater Violations To Protect Coastal Waters

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Honolulu Marine LLC and Hawaii Stevedores, Inc. to comply with Clean Water Act requirements for stormwater runoff at their facilities.

Hawaii Stevedores, Inc. operates marine cargo handling facilities at Pier 1 and Pier 35 at Honolulu Harbor. EPA inspections found that the Pier 1 facility did not have a permit or a stormwater pollution control plan, and that it lacked controls to prevent pollutants from vehicle repair and maintenance areas from being discharged in the stormwater runoff.

kewalo basin aerial

Honolulu Marine LLC operates a boat building and repair facility on Ahui Street that discharges stormwater into Kewalo Basin. EPA inspectors found the company failed to have required stormwater pollution control measures to prevent discharge of pollutants, failed to cover and contain stored materials and barrels, and did not meet stormwater control monitoring and reporting requirements as required by its stormwater permit.

“Both companies must promptly correct the violations and improve pollution controls at their facilities to protect our harbors and coastal waters,” said Alexis Strauss, Water Division director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “If not managed and controlled, pollutants can contaminate our coastal waters through stormwater runoff.”

The EPA’s order requires Hawaii Stevedores to obtain a stormwater permit and comply with all conditions of the permit. The company also has 30 days to contain all pollutants stored or used at its location from being discharged in stormwater runoff. Once these are complete, a report detailing the work must be submitted to the EPA.

Honolulu Marine needs to inspect its facility to ensure no pollutant sources enter into stormwater discharges. The company has 30 days to correct all stormwater control issues, address discharges at its catch basin and outfall, clean oily stains at the facility, and prevent runoff from the boat repair area. The company must submit to the EPA its stormwater best management plan, all required records and reports required by the discharge permit, and a report of the completed work.

Both companies were inspected in December 2008 as part of an EPA regionwide effort to improve compliance with the Clean Water Act’s stormwater regulations at ports in California and Hawaii.

Hawaii Stevedores, Inc. (PDF)
Honolulu Marine, LLC (PDF)

SOURCE: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency