Sewage Settlement Reached

Published: May. 8, 2007 at 7:07 PM HST|Updated: May. 8, 2007 at 8:04 PM HST
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On March 24, 2006 the city began dumping 50 million gallons of sewage into the Ala Wai canal
On March 24, 2006 the city began dumping 50 million gallons of sewage into the Ala Wai canal

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The City and County of Honolulu has reached an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency, the federal Department of Justice and the state of Hawaii which will address the long term weaknesses of Honolulu's aging sewer system.

The agreement settles a lawsuit which was filed against the city by state and federal governments in the wake of a mammoth sewage spill last spring. For five days in late March 2006, the city dumped over 50 million gallons of untreated sewage into the Ala Wai canal. The spill caused the closure of numerous beaches, including Waikiki beach.

The agreement calls for the construction of new force mains at Ala Moana, Beachwalk at Waikiki and at Kaneohe/Kailua on Oahu's windward side. Several other infrastructure improvements are included in the concord, including new backup force mains and a program of evaluating other vulnerable sewage system components island-wide.

Force mains are pressurized sewage lines which propel sewage towards treatment facilities. Unlike more common gravity flow sewer lines, force main sewer lines cannot be serviced when they fail, leaving engineers no options other than to dump the waste into waterways.

"Today's settlement shows a commitment by the City and County of Honolulu to protect human health by making significant improvement to its wastewater system," said Matthew J. McKeown, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "We are pleased to have worked cooperatively with our federal and state partners to reach this important settlement."