Tuesday, July 29, 2014         

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Council panel OKs agreement to upgrade city sewage facilities

By B.J. Reyes


A City Council committee has approved a proposed consent decree to end years of litigation alleging deficiencies in the city's sewage and wastewater treatment facilities.

The settlement goes before the full Council for approval at its next meeting July 14, at which time details are expected to be made public.

It was approved unanimously yesterday by the Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee after a private meeting with city attorneys in executive session.

"It's going to be a hard pill to swallow (financially), but I think there are worse options which would not help the taxpayers or the ratepayers," said Committee Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz.

"When the terms of the agreement are outlined, I think people will feel better," he added. "There's going to be a clear direction."

The settlement was announced Monday by Mayor Mufi Hannemann and Environmental Protection Agency officials from San Francisco.

It calls for improvements to the city's sewage structure with a longer-term schedule for upgrades to provide for secondary treatment of sewage at the city's main treatment plants at Sand Island and Honouliuli.

Robert Harris, executive director of the Sierra Club's Hawaii Chapter, was the only testifier at Wednesday's committee hearing.

"I think we share a common interest to try and protect Hawaii's environment," Harris said. "I would like to indicate our support for this broad proposition in attempting to come to some type of resolution."

If approved by the full Council, the consent decree would then go to the federal court for its OK and a public comment period. Once approved by the federal court, it would be lodged with the Department of Justice.

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