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Before And After Essay

943 words - 4 pages

The recent repointing of the bike and walk path at Ala Wai has reminded many of the incident that closed it eight years ago: the massive spill that sent 48 million gallons of raw, untreated sewage into the Ala Wai Canal. The spill closed Waikiki beaches for weeks, posing a serious environmental and health threat. It was, by all accounts, the largest sewage spill in the past two decades. However, it was only one illustrative event in a series outlining the deterioration, neglect, and failings of the Honolulu sewer system. Indeed, sewage spills had been an ongoing problem before the Ala Wai spill, with one occurring almost daily.
While the Ala Wai spill occurred at a time when the Sierra ...view middle of the document...

Dissatisfied with the lack of progress in confronting wastewater issues and implementing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) measures the Sierra Club, along with Hawai’i’s Thousand Friends and Our Children’s Earth Foundation lodged another civil suit against the CCH in 2004 (Sierra Club vs. CCH 2005). Despite best efforts the court dismissed most of the claims brought against the city, essentially deciding the case in favor of the same. This was but six months before the terrible Ala Wai spill.
Interestingly, a year after the spill the court granted the Sierra Club’s motion for reconsideration. At this point the CCH continued to violate Clean Water Act provisions as well as remained in noncompliance with provisions of the 1995 Consent Degree. On top of that, the Sand Island facility remained outdated, in breach of NPDES permits. Moreover, as of January 2005 the CCH had yet to complete the disinfection facility mandated to be finished by July 2002 (Sierra Club vs. CCH 2007). Even though the judge’s rulings in the case was only a partial win for the Sierra Club and its co-plaintiffs, it held the CCH liable for 297 violations of the federal CWA and 4,013 breaches of federal wastewater discharge permit resulting from project completion and upgrade delays (Sierra Club vs. CCH 2007-10; Sierra Club vs. CCH 2008). The court noted that these failures of compliance and action by the CCH both damaged the environment and created public health threats. Repeatedly, over the course of nine years, the city allowed the discharge of millions of gallons of sewage into streets, streams, homes and waterways (Sierra Club vs. CCH 2008).
Following the Ala Wai spill, the EPA and DOH took action as well. Besides efforts aimed at assisting the CCH in addressing vulnerabilities and preventing further spills, the agencies too...

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