After numerous discharges of fecal bacteria into Kaneohe Bay, the Marine Corps Base Hawaii is facing a $240,250 fine, the Hawaii Department of Health announced on Wednesday.

People enjoy some water activities at Kaneohe Bay.
The Marine Corps released more than the allowable amount of fecal bacteria into the waters around its Kaneohe facility. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2017

The Marine Corps runs the Kaneohe Bay Water Reclamation Facility, which discharges treated wastewater into the nearby ocean. Between August 2020 and February 2022, on “numerous occasions,” the Marine Corps discharged enterococci bacteria, an indicator of human fecal contamination, above the limit allowed by its permit, DOH said in a press release.

“The Marine Corps also failed to notify DOH of exceedances in a timely manner,” DOH said.

In addition to the fine, the Marine Corps will have to take corrective action to upgrade its wastewater treatment system to include “disinfection of final effluent,” DOH said. The Marine Corps is required to submit its upgrade plan to DOH for review and approval, according to DOH.

“The Marine Corps’ actions demonstrate a disregard for protecting our precious ocean waters,” Hawaii Deputy Director of Environmental Health Kathleen Ho said in a statement. “We will continue to hold violators accountable and protect public health and the environment.”

According to DOH, the Marine Corps intends to fight its violation notice in a contested case proceeding.

“A hearing date is pending,” DOH said.

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