REPORT FROM THE EPA – HONOLULU – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued an order requiring the County of Hawaii to repair the Hilo Wastewater Treatment Plant’s ocean outfall pipe. The pipe is leaking treated wastewater close to shore, posing a potential risk to the marine environment and public health.
To comply with the federal Clean Water Act, the County needs to correct discharge permit violations resulting from leaks along the plant’s 4500-foot outfall pipe located east of the Hilo Bay breakwater. The Hawaii Department of Health’s permit was issued on the condition that the treated wastewater would be discharged at the far end of the pipe.
“Hilo’s ocean environment and the public’s health depend on sound infrastructure to properly treat and convey wastewater,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Our action today means the County of Hawaii must make improvements to prevent wastewater from polluting Hilo’s coastal waters.”
Waves and currents moving across the floor of Hilo Bay have scoured and undercut the pipe bedding in several locations, leaving it vulnerable to further damage. The EPA order requires the County to repair and protect the pipe to fix the leaks and prevent further damage and possible catastrophic failure. The work on the outfall pipe will help ensure protection of corals and other marine life in Hilo Bay. Coral reefs are sensitive to increased nutrients in the water that can come from wastewater outfalls.
The County is required to complete its repairs within 90 days of receiving permits from the Department of Health and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Once the repairs are made, the County will need to test the integrity of the outfall pipe to confirm the leaks have been eliminated, and report the results to the EPA. The County must inspect the land-based sections of the pipe by December 31, 2014, and do any necessary repairs. In addition, The County is to assess and improve the wastewater treatment plant’s operations and maintenance by June 30, 2015.
For more information, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region9/water/npdes/compliance.html,