Mayor Mufi Hannemann on Monday announced a proposed agreement to end years of litigation over Honolulu’s sewage system.
“This carefully negotiated agreement will put past disputes behind us and eliminate the regulatory maze of decrees and orders that currently bind the city,” Hannemann said in a press release [doc]. “It will allow us to move forward and focus on making sure the city’s wastewater system continues to protect the people of Honolulu and our precious environment. When I became mayor, I was determined to deal with this complex and costly problem and not leave it for future mayors, as it had been left to me.”
Hannemann hammered prior mayoral administrations for their inability to get this far. The announcement comes as he prepares to leave office to run for governor, which he must do by July 20. The truth is that the city had few options but to settle and avoid potentially massive fines from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA was also in position to require that the island’s two largest treatment plants — at Sand Island and Honouliuli — perform secondary sewage treatment.
The announcement was light on specifics. There was no mention of how much the deal will cost the city, how much work will be done and where it will take place, or where the additional funds will come from. All that was made clear is that the city’s budget for the coming fiscal year will be unaffected.
City spokesman Bill Brennan said the proposed consent decree will not be made available until after the City Council approves it, possibly at its July 14 meeting.