- Associated Press - Friday, August 28, 2015

HONOLULU (AP) - Environmental groups are calling for updates to Hawaii’s wastewater systems in the wake of two beach closures due to sewage from a treatment plant spilling near the ocean.

A million gallons of treated but not yet disinfected wastewater spilled from the East Honolulu Wastewater Treatment plant, closing Sandy Beach and its surroundings Thursday. On Monday 400,000 gallons of wastewater spilled in Ala Moana Beach Park after heavy rains associated with Tropical Storm Kilo inundated the system.

“All of these things around the island, this shouldn’t be happening,” Stuart Coleman of Surfrider Foundation Hawaii told KHON-TV (http://bit.ly/1hJg076). “I mean, this was a major storm, but it wasn’t a hurricane and it wasn’t something that we can expect to be much, much worse.”

Marti Townsend, director of the Sierra Club of Hawaii, said the spills this week point to a bigger problem, one that will take a lot of money to fix. He said he hopes lawmakers seriously consider ways to raise revenue to fund the necessary upgrades.

“Raising taxes is always a dicey issue but it’s an opportunity for the city council and the mayor to find the right sweet spot in terms of how much to pay to charge for high end homeowners,” she said.

The Clean Water Branch of the State Department of Health said if investigators find that the spills were preventable, they will impose a fine. The Environmental Protection Agency can also impose fines if it is found that violations occurred. Those federal fines can be up to $25,000 per day of contamination.

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Information from: KHON-TV, http://khon.com

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