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Oahu construction co. ordered to restore wetlands

Release Date: 04/25/2006
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711,

(04/25/06) HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Coluccio Construction Co. and Kaneohe Ranch Co., to remove illegal fill and restore sensitive wetlands adjacent to Hamakua Stream in Kailua, Oahu.

Hamakua site: germinating grass seedlings on fill material replaced original wetland vegetationThe EPA’s action requires the company to:

-stop any further discharges of dredged or fill material into the Hamakua wetlands and Hamakua Stream;

-within 45 days, submit a plan for the removal of the fill material from the wetland area, restoration of the impacted wetlands, and control of invasive plants such as mangrove;

-submit a final report to the EPA within 30 days of completing the work; and

-monitor the restoration site, evaluate its success, and submit annual monitoring reports to the EPA beginning in 2007 and continuing through 2011.

“This order will benefit the Kaelepulu-Hamakua-Kawainui wetlands by restoring an area that protects the coastline, and provides flood storage and habitat for water birds such as the endangered Hawaiian stilt,” said Alexis Strauss, the EPA’s director for water programs in the Pacific Southwest region. “When working in wetland areas, it's vital to consult with the US Army Corps of Engineers and obtain needed permits well in advance of dredge and fill activities.”

In 2002, Coluccio was under contract with the City and County of Honolulu to work on a sewer rehabilitation project. Under an agreement with the landowner, Kaneohe Ranch, Coluccio used the site to store and maintain equipment and materials needed for the project, and removed mangrove trees from the wetland areas.

Wetland forensics:  EPA's Dr. Robert Leidy examines the soil profile of the buried wetland. In February 2005, the U.S. Army Corps, in response to complaints by Kailua residents, informed Coluccio and Kaneohe Ranch that fill material was being placed into Hamakua Stream and its adjacent wetlands without a permit. The Army Corps recommended that no further work be done and requested more information about the area and construction work at the site.

Acting on a referral from the Army Corps, Hawaii Department of Health and EPA officials inspected the site and noted that large stockpiles of excavated soil and rock had been deposited within wetland habitat adjacent to Hamakua Stream during the sewer project.

In November 2005, the EPA performed a detailed follow-up inspection of the site and found equipment and stockpiles of fill material had been removed. However, compacted fill material, including soil, gravel, and some asphalt was still present. Neither the company nor the landowner obtained a permit from the Corps for the discharge of dredged or fill material.

The wetland areas of Kawainui-Hamakua-Kaelepulu in Kailua provide water bird habitat, flood storage, and protect the island’s coastal water quality by filtering pollutants from runoff. When wetlands are filled, these important ecological functions are lost. Any discharges of dredged or fill material within wetlands or streams, including creation or realignment of drainage ditches in wetland areas, requires a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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