BY STUART COLEMAN –  I am urging the City & County of Honolulu to hold a public hearing regarding the City’s NPDES permit application so that the people of Honolulu can learn more about the city’s efforts to reduce urban runoff.

The Surfrider Foundation is a grassroots environmental non-profit that is dedicated to preserving our coastlines and protecting our beaches and oceans, and water pollution is one of our biggest issues and concerns.

Urban runoff is leading source of water pollution and poses grave environmental and health threats to coral reefs, marine ecosystems and people.  This is especially true in the Islands where storm drains lead directly to the ocean, carrying all of the pesticides, fertilizers, oil, chemicals, cigarette butts and plastic debris from our streets and homes.

The EPA has estimated that more than 40% of all water resources in the U.S. are too polluted for fishing, swimming and drinking water supplies.  So we have to act now to reduce this environmental and public health threat.

The good news is that counties around the country are introducing all kinds of measures to reduce urban runoff, including: installing sediment traps in front of storm drains; planting grassy bio-swales and green sidewalk cutouts to capture sediments and filter pollutants (which also enhance the beauty of the area); building more constructed wetlands and using less impervious surfaces so the runoff is filtered by the soil and restores our groundwater supplies; and educating the public about conserving water and using less chemicals in their lawns and gardens.  You can see more solutions at Surfrider’s website www.beachapedia.org/Urban_runoff

Environmental groups like Surfrider, the Sierra Club and others are eager to continue working with the DOH’s Clean Water Branch to find practical, cost-effective, aesthetically pleasing and beneficial solutions to the problems of stormwater runoff.

We ask that the DOH impose new and improved requirements on the City’s permit to discharge polluted stormwater and that the city hold a public hearing so that people can share their concerns and become part of the solution.

Stuart Coleman is the Hawaii Coordinator of the Surfrider Foundation. Reach him at scoleman@surfrider.org

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