The City & County of Honolulu has paid $26.5 million for 48 acres of land to expand the Honouliuli wastewater treatment plant in Ewa.
The land on Fort Weaver Road adjacent to the Honouliuli facility was sold by Ewa Industrial Park LLC, which previously proposed the development of an industrial park and the potential creation of up to 2,700 jobs in the Ewa region.
The city had been searching in recent years for land to expand the wastewater treatment plant and the parcel "became available at the right time in the right market to purchase it," according to Kirk Caldwell, acting Honolulu mayor. He didn’t provide details of the expansion or a time frame for the project.
But the city is required to improve Oahu’s wastewater collection system and spend an estimated $480 million to upgrade the Honouliuli plant to a secondary treatment facility by 2024 under a consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"(The land purchase) is not part of consent decree … but obviously going forward we’re going to be using the land to upgrade the treatment plant and meet secondary treatment standards by 2024," Caldwell said.
The land was the last available parcel adjacent to the Honouliuli facility and provides the city with various future options, according to Markus Owens, a city Department of Environmental Services spokesman.
The shelved industrial park project was expected to "provide employment and nearby residents and businesses an opportunity to live, work and play in the Ewa area," according to the July 2007 minutes of the Ewa Neighborhood Board.
"Wow, that hurts for everybody who was begging for work," said Ewa Neighborhood Board member Tom Berg. "It was going to be an open market of jobs, jobs, jobs."
It is unclear who will be responsible to widen the two-lane Geiger Road, which intersects Fort Weaver Road, with the shift in players. Ewa Industrial Park and Gentry Investment Properties had previously agreed to develop the road fronting Honouliuli, but according to Caldwell the city isn’t planning to use the road as an access point and therefore is not responsible for its improvements.
The Honouliuli wastewater treatment plant was built in 1978 originally as a primary treatment facility. It currently processes about 26 million gallons per day.