Thursday | November 23, 2017
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State briefs for November 8

Scientists: Maui sewage damages coral reefs

HONOLULU (AP) — Discharge from a sewage treatment facility in West Maui has been damaging the coral reefs off Kahekili Beach Park for years, according to a study by federal scientists.

The U.S. Geological Survey study found pollution is not only eroding the reef but also inhibiting new coral growth.

Maui County spokesman Rod Antone, however, said Friday that the findings contradict data from other studies that show the coral reef at Kahekili is getting healthier.

The question of whether coral reefs are being damaged by sewage from Maui County’s injection wells has been the subject of litigation and out-of-court negotiations for nearly a decade.

The treatment facility injects roughly 4 million gallons of treated sewage into the ground near the ocean each day.

In 2013, a scientific study found sewage from the Lahaina wastewater treatment plant is indeed finding its way into the nearshore waters, prompting U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway to rule on two occasions that the use of the wells violates the federal Clean Water Act.

The county appealed the ruling and attorneys on both sides argued their case before the court last month. If the county loses its appeal, it agreed to pay a $100,000 fine and spend $2.5 million for infrastructure designed to reuse the wastewater.

Honolulu police test body cameras in pilot program

HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu police officers are wearing body cameras for 30 days as part of a pilot program.

Seventy-seven officers who patrol the downtown, Chinatown and Ala Moana neighborhoods started testing the cameras Monday.

Officers are required to undergo online training provided by camera vendor Axon, as well as online policy training. The department is in the process of conducting training for camera users and back-end managers.

The cameras will be positioned on each officer’s chest. Policy requires the officer to turn the camera on every time he or she responds to a call.

Failure to do so requires an immediate comment to a supervisor, or the officer could face repercussions.

Officers do not have to tell people they are being recorded.

The body cameras aren’t costing the department anything yet, but officials said expanding the body camera program would be costly.


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