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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 31, 2005
MAYOR UNVEILS “OPERATION FIX” FOR
The mayor met last week with regional officials of the federal Environmental Protection Agency in
“Despite that, they still have concerns that were raised with the past administration that were never really addressed,” Hannemann said.
“I understand their concern, and we’re working as quickly as we can to rectify the problems that have accumulated through the years. We’ve already had 13 sewage spills since I took office in January. Our Environmental Services workers have done a yeoman’s job, but there’s only so much they can do.”
Operation Fix is a general strategy for improving the City’s ability to meet current requirements as well as terms of the 1995 consent decree with the EPA, in which
As the mayor stated in February’s State of the City speech, the previous administration failed to raise sewer fees since 1994 to underwrite those mandated improvements.
Hannemann has already proposed a 25 percent increase in sewer fees for the fiscal year that begins July 1, and 10 percent for each of the following five years, to fund the needed improvements. More than half of his proposed capital improvements budget for next fiscal year -- $241 million – would go toward wastewater treatment work.
He was accompanied at the EPA meeting by City Environmental Services Director Eric Takamura and Corporation Counsel Carrie Okinaga. All three also met with the
That lawsuit involves
Should then environmental groups prevail on everything they claim in that lawsuit, which is now before the federal courts, the City could face, among other things, fines of over one billion dollars.
In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency is conducting an audit of
Hannemann said that in addition to making the best possible use of the City’s professionals, he plans to enlist top local and national experts as consultants in
OPERATION FIX (Fast, Immediate, eXpedited)
A five-point program to repair
1. Develop a strategic action plan
a. Establish the Operation FIX Working Group with representatives from the City Department of Environmental Services, Department of Design and Construction, Department of the Corporation Counsel, Department of Facility Maintenance, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply and outside experts in the law, engineering and toxicology.
b. The working group will assess the condition of
c. The working group will evaluate the proposal now before the City Charter Commission to merge wastewater functions into the Board of Water Supply.
2. Maximize productivity of capital improvement efforts
a. Implement “design/build” projects to fast-track capital improvements.
b. Identify critical projects and initiate emergency purchasing procurement to execute and complete projects expeditiously under the “design/build” approach.
c. Resolve salary disparity issues to retard the loss of City engineers and workers to the state, federal and private sectors and assess consolidation of wastewater personnel .
d. Complete Kalaheo phase 1 in
3. Maximize productivity and capability of operations and maintenance
a. Create a single management operations center at Halawa under one supervisor. The current three supervisors (Leeward, Metro, Windward) will report to one chief engineer for better coordination.
b. Expand and update training programs and maintenance procedures, e.g., cleaning and spill response.
c. Upgrade technology to effectively track repair and maintenance projects and their effectiveness.
d. Purchase more efficient cleaning equipment to increase productivity.
4. Recommend a schedule for increased sewer fees
As Mayor Mufi Hannemann said in his State of the City address in February, he is proposing increases in monthly sewer fees as follows:
FY 2006 25% (from $33/month to $45/month)
FY 2007 10%
FY 2008 10%
FY 2009 10%
FY 2010 10%
FY 2011 10%
The increases are necessary for capital improvements, debt service repayment, salary adjustments, filling employee vacancies, defending against the pending Sierra Club lawsuit and threatened enforcement actions and upgrading the workforce and aging infrastructure. The sewer fund will only be used for sewer-related expenses.
5. Create and foster a proactive work environment and public education program.
a. Establish a more open dialogue and relationship with the regulators at the Hawaii Department of Health and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
b. Create a more cooperative and open relationship with
c. Educate the public about the City’s environmental infrastructure needs.
d. Immediately report spills to public/press, and have a senior manager at the site to answer questions.
Eric Takamura, director of Environmental Services,
Carrie Okinaga, Corporation Counsel, 523-4115
|Thursday, March 31, 2005|