Mayor Kirk Caldwell says the city is making good progress on a federal agreement requiring a major overhaul to Oahu’s sewer system.

The repairs are part of a 2010 settlement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and city.

At a press conference last week, Caldwell said:

Our sewer projects, we’re ahead of schedule on our consent decree.

The city is required to complete numerous improvements to its sewer system by 2035, including installing secondary treatment facilities at Sand Island and Honouliuli.

We asked the mayor’s office what Caldwell meant by “ahead of schedule.”

And mayoral spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke replied via email:

The Global Consent Decree (GCD) was issued December 17, 2010. From that point to present, the city has been 100% compliant with all requirements; meaning if GCD states an action on a particular date, the City has met it on or in most cases ahead of schedule.

Dean Higuchi, a spokesman for the EPA, tells us the city is in compliance with the requirements in the consent decree. However, he said he could not vouch for whether the city is ahead of schedule, noting that would take a lot of digging through documents.

However, Van Dyke provided a detailed list of all the requirements that the city has to fulfill in the coming years, along with the deadlines.

The documents show that the city has met all of the requirements to date and that in many areas is finishing tasks ahead of the deadlines. For instance, video surveillance of 300 miles of pipes was required by the end of 2013, but 579 miles of pipe has been inspected. The city is also ahead of deadlines on cleaning gravity mains and conducting smoke tests, and has completed dozens of sewer rehabilitation projects several years ahead of schedule.

The consent decree has been in place since 2010 when Peter Carlisle was mayor. Caldwell took over the mayor’s job in January.

Caldwell told us that the consent decree is one of the top five priorities of his administration.

“I want to get it done quicker, faster, get ahead of deadlines, so that we not only honor the consent decree, but we then meet it ahead of time,” he said.

Caldwell added that it’s a particularly good time to focus on the sewer work because interest rates on bonds, which pay for the work, are very low right now.

“Why not be ahead of the deadlines for once?” he said.

BOTTOM LINE: We find Caldwell’s statement to be TRUE. The city has not only met dozens of requirements outlined in the consent decree, but in many cases has completed requirements several years ahead of schedule.

You can review the consent decree documents below:

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