Health Dept. cites state harbors for sewage discharge - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Health Dept. cites state harbors for sewage discharge

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The state Health Department says that state boating facilities at Honokohau Harbor on the Big Island are discharging sewage directly into the ocean and that the wastewater system at the Heeia Kea Pier in Kaneohe is close to overcapacity.

In a letter last September, the Health Department raised concerns that a much of the waste at Honokohau Harbor is being treated inadequately in injection wells or seepage pits that leak.

"Due to the location of the wastewater systems being in close proximity of harbor waters, it is highly likely that bacteria and nutrients discharged in the effluents of the systems will flow into the harbor," Sina Pruder, chief of the DOH's Wastewater Branch wrote. "DLNR must take measures to develop alternative disposal systems ..."

The Honokohau Harbor sewage problem is exacerbated by the nearby Kealakehe Wastewater Treatment, which pours nearly 1.5 million gallons of partially treated sewage daily into an open pit.

A 2008 study by the U.S. Geological Survey has shown that a lot of that partially treated sewage finds its way into the harbor.

Meanwhile, capacity at the Heeia Boat Harbor is at nearly 100 percent and that the sewage isn't being treated properly before it's placed in underground seepage pits.

"It's just that cesspools and injection wells have been allowed to proliferate," said Stephen Holmes, conservation chair for Sierra Club Hawaii. "Hawaii is really behind the times. It's third world thinking. We need to get away from that."

The Department of Land and Natural Resources says all of the discharges are within allowable limits. 

But it said it's considering building a new wastewater system on Kona or pumping the waste up to nearby sewer lines.

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