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Monitoring & Testing:  What We Do

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Sampling waters at the deep ocean outfalls.

Searching for a force main break at Sand Island; looking for leaky pipes on residential property.

ENV's Division of Environmental Quality watches over the entire process of wastewater collection, treatment and disposal. This includes pretreatment, monitoring and analysis of storm water, air, wastewater and receiving water quality, and reports to the regulatory agencies.

Daily tests measure the levels of specific pollutants in the waters at all steps in the treatment process, not just the final stages when the treated effluent is released. The ENV Oceanographic Team routinely samples for bacterial levels at wastewater outfalls as well. Evaluating the results is the job of the state Department of Health and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. If pollution levels are too high, our quality control specialists look for immediate causes—equipment failure, sewer overflow, breaks in the line—as well as long-term system needs.

In the case of a spill, crews take water samples from various locations. Crews post warning signs and monitor streams and currents until recreational areas are safe.

Mounting public concern for the nation's water quality led to passage of the landmark 1972 Federal Water Pollution Control Act, amended in 1977 and commonly called the Clean Water Act. The law regulates discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees water quality compliance nationwide, working with state agencies for local oversight. In Hawaii, EPA works through the state Department of Health (DOH).

In 1994 the City reached an agreement with DOH on upgrading facilities that would bring Oahu's heavily-burdened wastewater collection system into compliance.

The City has a strong commitment to reduce and prevent sanitary sewer overflows.

Wastewater treatment plant improvements are ongoing. There is a comprehensive plan in place to upgrade our sewer lines, many of which are between 50 and 100 years old.

Furthermore, state and federal regulatory agencies require ENV to perform tests and analyze data from a number of city-owned wastewater facilities. 

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, May 10, 2011