State says hotel illegally pumped storm water into ocean for more than a decade


A Waikiki hotel was draining storm water into the ocean for more than a decade, something it was not supposed to.

We first told you Thursday that the Moana Surfrider was illegally pumping bacteria-filled water into the ocean from a seepage pit.

A viewer told us about it using the Report It feature on our website and asked us to look into it.

So we checked with the state Dept. of Health, which then took action. The department says it considers this an unusual investigation, and is considering this not just a learning experience for the hotel, but the state as well.

So what are seepage pits? They’re underground pits containing liquids that seep into the ground.

What the Moana Surfrider was doing was draining its storm water from the pit through tubes — something it does not have a permit for. But according to the state Dept. of Health, the hotel has stopped its practices immediately and is cooperating fully.

This after the DOH says the hotel was illegally draining its seepage pit for over 10 years.

We’re told the state does not regulate seepage pits, but is thinking of looking into whether other hotels are doing the same thing. “I think the branch will have to decide whether it’s something we need to pursue and meet with hotels along the beachfronts,” said Stuart Yamada, department chief of the environmental management division. “Not that it’s wrong to have seepage pits, but they have to be cognizant of how they maintain the building and discharging any problem, that is always a point to learn from.”

Rafael Bergstrom from the Oahu chapter of the Surfrider Foundation says they want to work with businesses to educate them on the dangers of storm water.

“Anytime you’re trying to get pollutants off your land, you should know better than to dump it into the ocean,” he said. “Ideally, in the future, we’d like to work with somebody like the hotels to say, ‘OK, how can we better manage that?'”

Hotel general manager Lawrence Hanson released a statement Friday, saying “we are continuing with work with the Department of Health and will cooperate with them to do what is right.”

The DOH says it will likely give the Moana Surfrider a warning not to do this again.

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