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July 29, 2004




At an afternoon news conference, Managing Director Ben Lee responded to a Sierra Club lawsuit filed today against the City.  The suit alleges deficiencies in the City's wastewater system.


"The suit is absolutely unnecessary and a waste of taxpayer dollars," Lee said.  "We have spent $800 million on improvements to the wastewater system since 1994 and another $120 million is in this year's capital budget.  Besides that, we have spent $5 million on monitoring sewer lines and our deep ocean outfalls over the last eight years and found that there have been no detrimental health or negative environmental impacts.  Both the Sand Island and Honouliuli wastewater treatment plants have met U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discharge requirements.


"We are also well into a 20-year program to rebuild our collection system and stop the inflow and infiltration of rainwater into our sewer lines."  He went on to point out that the City has been working closely with the EPA and the State's Department of Health to protect the public health, and that the lawsuit would divert City funds away from further improvements.  "We continue to meet with EPA at least semi-annually in San Francisco to update them on permit issues.


"Spills have decreased over the years, although exceptionally heavy rains early in 2004 overwhelmed our system for short periods," Lee continued.  "However we need to remember that the overflows were heavily diluted by rainwater.  You need to balance the benefit of containing what amount to large amounts of rainwater against the enormous cost of building a system that responds to very infrequent events."


Lee acknowledged that construction delays had affected the timeline for completion of some facilities, but that had occurred for reasons beyond the City's control.  He concluded stating that the City continues to be very aggressive in expanding and improving its wastewater facilities island wide.



Friday, July 30, 2004

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