City’s Mayor denies downplaying health concerns about Kailua sewage

The mayor of Honolulu, Rick Bran, denied allegations that the city was minimizing health risks when bacterial levels in treated sewage discharged into Kailua Bay recently spiked. This came after a water cleanup agency in the state expressed concern about the situation earlier in the week. Bran disputed the claims of the state’s water regulator, which is monitoring the situation. However, he acknowledged that the city may change its message in the future whenever such a surge occurs. He stated that the city had not disrespected anything in good faith but will probably adjust its procedures to ensure this is not an issue again.

State Health Director Kenneth Fink teamed up with Mayor Rick Brunjadi on Thursday to see the city downplay health concerns following a recent spate of bacterial samples rising at the Kailua sewage treatment plant. He denied the allegations made by one employee of the state’s water agency, specifically Bobby, the deputy overseer. In two of those days, he had enterococci levels more than six times higher than his levels allowed by state and federal environmental regulations.

Bobby said he hadn’t seen such information in the city’s daily press releases, so the health department should warn the public to avoid the waters of Kailua Bay and let them know how serious the bacteria levels are. He felt that the city was downplaying how high these excesses were, which is why he issued his own press release. Branjadi invited Bobby’s boss, Health Secretary Kenneth Fink, to a press conference to ask for his opinion on the matter. He said he agreed with the mayor and believed that the city did not downplay any risk to public health and safety.

Another state health official, Myron Honda, also endorsed Bobby on Tuesday, telling reporters that the state’s water authority chose the unusual step of issuing its own press release highlighting health concerns because the local media never picked up on the city’s announcement. Despite investigations by city, state, and federal officials into the recent spate of high enterococci levels in Kailua, the city is working on at least two Environmental Protection Agency mandates to improve sewer systems across Oahu. They have about a year to take six different actions set out in the EPA executive order to improve plant operations.

In conclusion, the city of Honolulu denies that it is minimizing health risks, and the mayor is considering changing the city’s procedures to prevent future occurrences. The state Health Director agrees with the mayor, believing that the city has not downplayed any risk to public health and safety. Despite ongoing investigations into the cause of the increased bacterial levels, the city is working to improve its sewer systems in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency mandates.

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