By Peter Chawaga
A massive influx of federal funding has been earmarked for addressing a highly controversial drinking water contamination issue in one of the country’s most pristine regions.
“The military’s response to the water contamination crisis caused by Navy fuel storage in Hawaii is poised to get a $350 million boost after Congress cleared a stopgap spending measure containing the funding,” Military.com reported. “The Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force will get $250 million to cover expenses related to the Hawaii water contamination. The CR [continuing resolution] also gives $100 million to the Defense Department to comply with a Hawaiian order to drain the fuel tanks at Red Hill, an order the department is currently fighting in court.”
The Navy facility at Red Hill was found to be leaking petroleum into Honolulu’s drinking water supply, which led to a standoff between a local utility chief and the military branch late last year. Nearly 100,000 consumers were impacted, and the U.S. EPA recently launched an investigation into the issue.
“We’re going to take a look and really look very closely at whether or not the facility has operated within the guidelines of the law, and if it hasn’t, then we will have to make some corrections there,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said, per Hawaii News Now.
The U.S. Senate approved the continuing resolution, or “stopgap” funding, last week. While these bills typically just extend existing funding, they sometimes include new funding for special projects such as this.
Even as the EPA investigates the cause of the problem, it appears the $350 million now earmarked for cleanup is much needed to clear up the damage that’s already been done. As of this writing, there are still more than a dozen neighborhoods currently under advisories not to drink their water.
“Navy officials said in January that cleanup costs associated with the spill had already exceeded $250 million,” Military.com reported. “Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, had described the CR as a first round of possible funding to defuel Red Hill and vowed to push for more in future spending bills.”
To read more about how water systems address issues like fuel leaks, visit Water Online’s Drinking Water Contaminant Removal Solutions Center.