September 25, 2002Jo Ann Cola
Water Division (WTR-7)
75 Hawthorne St.
San Francisco, CA 94105-3901
Re: Clean Water Act Violations
Dear Ms. Cola;
As a follow-up to our September 10, 2002, phone
conversation, please accept this letter as my written formal complaint of Clean
Water Act violations in the County of Honolulu, the Island of Oahu, Hawaii,
against the State of Hawaii, Dole Foods, Wahiawa Water Company, the Hawaii State
Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Hawaii Department of Health and
the United States Army.
Specifically, on or about June 23, 2002, I observed effluent water being discharged into the Kaukonahua Stream from the Wahiawa Reservoir via a 24-inch pipe attached to the Dole Foods irrigation ditch. See attached photographs illustrating the conditions and actual discharge of effluent water.
In the past the irrigation ditch was used to distribute treated effluent generated by the Wahiawa and Schofield Barracks Waste Water Treatment Plants for reuse in irrigating sugarcane. It is currently being used on a variety of other crops.
Upon discovering the discharge of the effluent into the stream, I telephoned the Department of Health and informed Mr. Michael Tsuji of my observation. He claimed he had no knowledge of the discharge. A few days later Mr. Tsuji informed me that the Department of Health confirmed my observation and would be sending a letter to Dole Foods ordering them to stop the unlawful discharge into the Kaukonahua Stream.
Subsequent to my telephone conversation with Mr. Tsuji, I telephoned Mr. Yoshiaki Tanabe, Manager of Dole Food Company, Hawaii, at 808-621-3220. Mr. Tanabe told me that Mr. Dennis Lau of the DOH authorized the discharge of effluent water into the Kaukonahua Stream.
After to my call to Mr. Tanabe I telephoned Mr. Dennis Lau at DOH. I informed Mr. Lau that Mr. Tanabe told me that [Dennis Lau] of the DOH verbally authorized [Tanabe] to discharge effluent into the stream in a meeting he attended with other state and federal agencies to discuss lowering the level of water in the Wahiawa Reservoir. Mr. Lau stated, “He is a damn liar” and abruptly ended our phone conversation by hanging up.
A few days later I received a letter from Mr. Sterling Yong, of the DLNR, recounting the events of the meeting that Tanabe claimed he was attending when he received verbal authorization from DOH. A portion of the letter states, “DLNR mentioned that the DOH in the past has been cooperative and has issued verbal approvals for such emergency releases”.
On July 16, 2002, Mr. Gary Gill, Deputy Director of the HDOH, wrote a letter to Mr. Gilbert Coloma-Agaran, Chairman of the HDLNR. The letter states “The Department of Health (Department) has received several complaints regarding muddy water discharges and disturbing odors due to discharges from behind the dam at Lake Wilson. On June 25, 2002, an inspection revealed water flowing from an open pipe below Lake Wilson. There is no National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit authorizing the discharge. It is our understanding that the discharge is controlled by Dole Food Company Hawaii (Dole), and that the water discharged comes from the bottom of Lake Wilson. The Department requests that the Department of Land and Natural Resources and Dole cease the discharge of muddy waters in present capacity and, if it is necessary to continue the discharge, release water from a higher level in Lake Wilson where the water quality is better.
The Discharge by Dole caused a turbid plume where it entered Kaukonahua Stream. Hawaii Administrative Rules, Section 11-54-04(a)(3), states “all waters shall be free of substances attributable to domestic, industrial, or other controllable sources of pollutants, including: Substances in amounts sufficient to produce taste in water or detectable color, turbidity or other conditions in the receiving waters.”
Included in this report are photographs documenting the state of disrepair of the Irrigation Ditch and points where the reused effluent from the Wahiawa and Schofield Barracks Waste Water Treatment Plants is intentionally being discharged into waters of the State, which constitute a clear violation of the Clean Water Act. (See photographs)
A few specific points should be noted: NPDES permit # HI 0020125 authorizing the discharge of treated sewage water from the WWTP into the Wahiawa Reservoir expired on March 1, 1994. Since then the City and County of Honolulu has been operating the WWTP under a Consent Decree. Unlike the Schofield Waste Water Treatment Plant, the City and County of Honolulu does not have aN NPDES permit to discharge into the streams, just into the Wahiawa Reservoir. Schofield is allowed to discharge into the Kaukonaua Stream for emergency purposes or for repair of the Dole Irrigation ditch (not to exceed 36 days). There are no NPDES permits for the City and County of Honolulu allowing the discharge of the treated effluent from the Wahiawa Reservoir into the Kaukonahua Stream.
The water being discharged from the reservoir is effluent from the Wahiawa Waste Water Treatment Plant. We don’t understand Mr. Gill’s rationalE for suggesting or authorizing discharge of water from the surface when it would still be a violation of the Clean Water Act. How can he make that suggestion when there is no permit or court order. The water still contains high amounts of phosphorus, nitrogen, fecal coliform and other contaminants.
The letter from Mr. Gill to Mr. Agaran suggests that the June 25 inspection is the first time this violation was brought to DOH’s attention, or that DOH had knowledge of the pipe’s existence or use. The fact is, technicians from the DOH observed discharges from the pipe as early as February, 2001.
I believe the information submitted corroborates our claims of numerous past and ongoing Clean Water Act violations by Dole Foods Hawaii, the City and County of Honolulu, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Hawaii State Department of Health. This information should be incorporated as an integral part of your investigation.
I have also provided via fax the following documents:
4. A copy of a DLNR memo for
file dated 11/6/01.
9. A copy of a letter from Mr. Sterling Yong, DLNR, to Carroll Cox, dated July 17, 2002, recounting the “Event/Actions after the May 6, 2002 Flood at Otake Camp”.
We authorize the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s use of any and all documents and photographs submitted by EnviroWatch Inc. now or in the future.
We appeal to your Agency to do the right thing and take the necessary steps to prosecute the named entities your Agency determines committed violations of the Clean Water Act or other Federal Laws or regulations. We also believe that the State’s Consent Decree with the City and County does not supercede federal law and therefore any violations should be prosecuted.
If your Agency determines that the existing relationship with the State of Hawaii is a factor in your Agency’s ability to prosecute this matter, we respectfully request that you refer it out to a neutral entity.
We have approximately two to three hundred documents and several hundred photographs we will be happy to make available upon request.
Carroll E. Cox