County fined $36K for water pollution in Waimea

LIHU‘E — The County of Kaua‘i Department of Public Works has been cited and fined $36,500 for violating water-pollution laws on three different occasions for a Waimea project conducted over a seven-month period last year.

On Friday, the state Department of Health issued a notice of violation and order for the project, which lacked a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit and resulted in discharging sediment into state waters.

The project covered 43 acres of land along Kaumuali‘i Highway in Waimea that included work to create a fire break, clear vegetation from internal roads and drainage ditches in and around county-owned land that includes Waimea Wastewater Treatment Plant and farming operations. The project also created a parking area near a park.

The DOH said the county failed to prevent pollution during the grubbing and grading stages, which resulted in sediment discharges that flowed into nearshore waters on three occasions after rain.

DPW Acting County Engineer Troy Tanigawa said the county worked with the DOH to address concerns.

“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 said the department is reviewing the notice and have “initiated expanded training opportunities to ensure that we comply with all permitting rules hereafter.”

The notice requires the county to conduct environmental training in addition to the fine.

“Whether you’re a county department or a private business, you must obtain and comply with environmental permits as law requires,” DOH Deputy Director Keith Kawaoka said in a statement.

  1. I saw a Vampire once January 10, 2021 12:27 pm Reply

    I didn’t know public works could get fined. Isn’t this a government agency? It is just going to another department. This would be a local law. What if a Matson barge were to dump sewage 10 miles off shore of Kaua’i, would the EPA fine Matson? This is already on International waters.

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