09.19.2016  |  News

Hawaii Stormwater Enforcement Actions on the Rise


The State of Hawaii Department of Health Clean Water Branch (CWB) is responsible for ensuring that construction sites, industrial facilities, and municipalities are carrying out their operations in compliance with their respective stormwater permits. CWB inspectors regularly visit permittee facilities and job sites to inspect for noncompliance, identifying issues such as poorly maintained best management practices (BMPs), incomplete record-keeping, and untrained personnel.

Since November 2014, CWB inspectors have had a new enforcement tool at their disposal: the field citation. A field citation is an offer to settle an administrative case against a specific stormwater violation on a specific day. Instead of issuing a formal notice and finding of violation and order, CWB can issue an immediate field citation of up to $500 for first offense and up to $2000 for subsequent violations. This makes it far easier for CWB to issue enforcement actions against permittees that find themselves out of permit compliance.

Based on data from CWB, the total number of statewide stormwater enforcement actions declined sharply from 2009 to 2012 (Figure 1). Since then, enforcement actions are again on the rise, with the implementation of field citations now representing over 60% of the total enforcement actions taken.

Stormwater Permit Enforcement Actions in Hawaii (2000 – 2015) Source: CWB (http://eha-web.doh.hawaii.gov/wpc-viewer)
Stormwater Permit Enforcement Actions in Hawaii (2000 – 2015) Source: CWB (http://eha-web.doh.hawaii.gov/wpc-viewer)

KJ reminds Hawaii stormwater permittees that increased scrutiny by CWB may lead to enforcement actions at your permitted site or facility. As stormwater permits are an extension of the Federal Clean Water Act, a small stormwater permit issue can lead to 3rd party lawsuits, with costs that far exceed a field citation.

Based on KJ’s review of recent CWB enforcement actions, we’ve identified the following “hot-button” issues that frequently lead to enforcement actions:

  • Starting work/operations without a permit or before a permit has been issued
  • Failure to install/maintain appropriate BMPs
  • Failure to monitor/sample in accordance with permits and regulations
  • Failure to have permit-required records and plans on-site

KJ’s Honolulu-based stormwater team has assisted many clients with the complex world of stormwater compliance. Our goal is to help you stay in compliance and out of the spotlight. In our experience, regulators look favorably on facilities that take proactive measures to stay in compliance, rather than reacting after a water pollution issue is uncovered. KJ regularly works with municipal, industrial and construction industry clients to tackle the regulatory maze and proactively plan for stormwater management. Contact us for more information on how we can help you avoid costly enforcement penalties and possible litigation.


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