Kauai News

DOH Cites County for Discharging Sediment Into State Waters

Posted January 8, 2021, 3:33 PM HST

The County of Kaua‘i Department of Public Works has been issued a Notice of Violation and Order (NOVO) after reportedly discharging sediment into state waters.

Between Jan. 6 – July 24, 2020,  Public Works personnel conducted 43 acres of earth disturbing construction activities along Kaumuali‘i Highway in Waimea without the required National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit coverage.

“While conducting the grubbing and grading without a permit, the county failed to implement any pollution preventing best management practices that the permit requires to prevent polluted discharges,” DOH stated in a release Friday. “During that span, there were rain events on three separate occasions that resulted in discharges of sediment to the drainage ditches, which ultimately flow into nearshore waters.”

This is the second NOVO issued in the past four years against the county for water pollution related violations.

“DOH permits are in place to protect human and environmental health,” said Keith Kawaoka, Deputy Director of Heath. “Whether you’re a county department or a private business, you must obtain and comply with environmental permits as law requires.”

Acting County Engineer Troy Tanigawa said the project in question included work to create a fire break, clear vegetation from internal roads and drainage ditches in and around the County parcel that includes the Waimea Wastewater Treatment Plant and farming operations, and also create a parking area for Westside community members next to a County park.

“The County respects the need to protect the human and environmental health and, prior to the issuance of the NOVO, the County worked with the Department of Health to address its concerns regarding the project work,” Tanigawa stated.

The NOVO requires the county to comply with a recently obtained NPDES permit, conduct environmental training, and pay a monetary penalty of $36,500. The penalty takes into consideration that this is the second enforcement action issued to the county for failure to comply with Hawai‘i Water Pollution laws since 2016. The County of Kaua‘i may contest the NOVO within 20 days of service and request a hearing.

“In hopes of alleviating further concerns regarding drainage discharges from this property, please note that drainage ditches which receive stormwater from the property in question are blocked from, and do not normally discharge into, nearshore waters,” Tanigawa stated. “We are reviewing the NOVO and have initiated expanded training opportunities to ensure that we comply with all permitting rules hereafter.”