May 05, 2021

Hawaii’s Department of Health Recommends Permit for Storm Water Runoff from Thirty Meter Telescope Construction Site

The Department of Health Clean Water Branch published a tentative recommendation to renew a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit for the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory. 

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On April 8, 2021, the Department of Health Clean Water Branch (CWB) published in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald a tentative recommendation to renew a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) International Observatory. 

The permit requires any future TMT construction site conform to specific storm water runoff practices in order to prevent contamination of waters farther down the mountain, reported West Hawaii Today. The permit identifies Kemole Gulch, Kuupahaa Gulch, Puupohakuoloa Gulch, Pohakuloa Gulch and the Wailuku River as the waters that will receive any storm water runoff from the site.

According to Darryl Lum, supervisor for the Clean Water Branch’s engineering section, these permits must be renewed every five years but the DOH was unable to renew the TMT permit when it first came up for renewal in 2019, reported West Hawaii Today. As a result the DOH extended the permit indefinitely until earlier 2021, when it resubmitted its recommendation to renew the permit.

The permit only applies to storm water runoff from a TMT construction site on Maunakea, not the TMT itself, added Lum.

The current public notice will incorporate all previously submitted public comments (May 23, 2019, public notice and June 25, 2019 public hearing) into this new public comment record. The CWB is extending the public comment period an additional 30-days, which is now scheduled to end June 7, 2021.

Written comments can be emailed to [email protected] or mailed to the office at 2827 Waimano Home Road, #225, Pearl City, Hawaii 96782. All mailed comments must be postmarked no later than June 7, 2021 and the new permit recommendation and fact sheet can be viewed here.

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