Marine Corps, EPA partner to improve stormwater management in Hawaii

HONOLULU (UC) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has entered an agreement with the U.S. Marine Corps to make improvements related to stormwater discharges at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH) located on the Mokapu Peninsula of Kaneohe, Oahu.

“This agreement marks a major milestone in protecting Hawaii’s water quality from damage caused by military stormwater discharges,” Martha Guzman, EPA Pacific Southwest regional administrator, said. “By addressing significant deficiencies related to its stormwater program, the Marine Corps will protect cultural and recreational waters including Kaneohe Bay, Kailua Bay and the Nu‘upia Pond.”

Stormwater runoff picks up pollutants like trash, chemicals, oils, and dirt that can harm our rivers, streams, lakes, and coastal waters. Permitting is designed to prevent harmful stormwater runoff into local surface waters.

The stormwater system at issue in this agreement is regulated by the Hawai’i Department of Health (DOH) under a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System permit, as authorized under the Clean Water Act.

In 2020, EPA and Hawai’i DOH conducted an audit of MCBH’s compliance with its NPDES permit and found the facility exceeded discharge limits and failed to submit all discharge monitoring data required by the permit. The lack of required data and numerous effluent exceedances demonstrated that the Marine Corps was failing to carry out the NPDES-required systems and training to detect unauthorized discharges from its stormwater system.

The agreement announced today will require MCBH to carry out a plan to prioritize stormwater outfalls for screening to effectively reduce trash discharges and provide staff with relevant training to build awareness about stormwater requirements and reduce unauthorized discharges throughout the storm system.

Other provisions of the new agreement will require MCBH to improve detection and elimination of non-stormwater wastewater, establish an asset management program track the stormwater system, and hire a third-party to conduct an audit of MCBH’s stormwater program.

The service branch was fined $240,250 by  DOH after it found numerous emissions of fecal bacteria in Kaneohe Bay.

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