You are here:  Main / Customer Services / Public Communications Division / 2009 / Mayor Hannemann Responds to Decision on Wastewater Treatment



Mayor Mufi Hannemann said he is disappointed, but not surprised, at today’s decision by the EPA to not renew variances which have for years exempted the city’s Sand Island and Honouliuli wastewater treatment plants from full secondary treatment requirements. The decision followed tentative denials of the variances in 2007.


“Every indication was that the EPA would decline to renew the waivers these plants have operated under for so long, so today’s decision was not unexpected,” Hannemann said. “However, we had hoped that the EPA would reconsider its tentative decision, in light of the overwhelming evidence presented by our local scientists and engineers that secondary treatment at these plants is not necessary or beneficial. We will review the final decision, and in all likelihood seek a review, as provided for by the EPA regulations.”


At last count, installing secondary treatment facilities at the treatment plants would cost approximately $1.2 billion, and would require significant increases in residential sewer fees, Hannemann noted.


Hannemann said he would prefer to focus financial resources on repairing and upgrading the extensive network of sewer pipes that feed into the treatment plants.


Four local scientists who are members of the mayor’s Environmental Panel of Advisors and very familiar with Honolulu’s wastewater system said they were also very disappointed by the EPA’s decision. The four – Dr. Hans Krock, PhD, PE; Dr. James Kumagai, PhD, PE; Dr. Victor Moreland, PhD, PE; and James Honke, MS, retired chief of the wastewater division at the city’s Department of Design and Construction issued the following statement:


“We believe that EPA’s decision to deny the Honouliuli and Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plants 301(h) waivers is unacceptable and inconsistent with good science. Their conclusions are based on supposition, using “could be,” “mostly likely,” “likely would,” and “may have,” rather than relying on facts. There is no evidence that the discharges are causing any of the problems or impairments to our marine water and/or aquatic life alleged by EPA. This denial is directly counter to the local, national, and international approach of looking at the holistic view of earth’s biosphere (land, air, water) including minimizing our greenhouse gases impact. The EPA is willing to spend our money needlessly with no positive benefits. The Clean Water Act refers to economic efficiency, cost effectiveness, and feasibility among the information to be used by EPA in making regulatory decisions. This means that a decision should demonstrate public and environmental health benefits in excess of costs.”


In March, 2008, the city submitted a detailed response to the EPA’s tentative denial of the waiver for the Sand Island plant. For more information about the response, and additional background information, please see the news release issued on March 31, 2008: .


The city submitted a similar response regarding the Honouliuli plant in August, 2007: .




Media contact: Bill Brennan, Mayor’s Office, 527-6928