New & Noteworthy: ADC; State Offices Reoganized

ADC Payout: Among the payments for settlements and judgments authorized by the state Legislature earlier this year was one for $131,849.52, identified as the settlement for a case brought in federal court in 2018.

Early that year, the Agribusiness Development Corporation was sued by three non-profit groups over discharges made from its lands in west Kaua‘i into the ocean. The ADC had had no permit under the Clean Water Act to allow for the discharges since 2015.

In late 2019, the parties – plaintiffs Na Kia‘i Kai, Surfrider Foundation, and Pesticide Action Network North America, represented by Earthjustice – and the ADC reached a settlement, which was recorded in court in February 2020.

Terms of the agreement call for the ADC to apply for a new NPDES permit and adopt a much more rigorous water sampling program, make improvements to roads to minimize runoff, and inspect improvements made by tenants to control offsite drainage, as outlined in a lengthy document specifying best management practices, among other things.

The 2018 lawsuit was actually the second one filed by the same plaintiffs over CWA violations. The first one, lodged in July 2016, was withdrawn in late 2017.

Following the filing of the settlement agreement, Judge Derrick K. Watson granted a motion for summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, allowing them to recoup their legal costs and attorney fees from the ADC. Funds for the payment come from general funds and not from the ADC budget.

ADC DEA: The state Agribusiness Development Corporation has released a draft environmental assessment to improve irrigation on about 800 acres of land it owns in Central O‘ahu. The draft environmental assessment was first published in The Environmental Notice on June 23, and was republished again on July 23. The reason provided for the republication, according to a letter from James Nakatani, executive director of the agency, was to allow the public additional time to comment on the plan.

The plan outlined in the draft EA anticipates drawing surface water from Wahiawa Reservoir (Lake Wilson) and reclaimed R-1 water from the Wahiawa wastewater treatment plant and delivering it, by means of about 50,000 feet of new pipeline in addition to existing lines, to lands in the districts of Wahiawa and Waialua. The proposal also calls for construction of a new 14 million gallon reservoir, in addition to employing two existing reservoirs on ADC lands in the area.

The ADC anticipates drawing 5.1 mgd from the Wahiawa Reservoir, which, it says, “would allow the improved irrigation system to provide sufficient water service for uninterrupted commercial agricultural production in the project area.”

Comments on the draft EA are due by August 23.

OEQC Now SERP: Act 152 of the 2021 Legislature moved the state Office of Environmental Quality Control out of the Department of Health and into the state Office of Planning. The old OEQC is now the State Environmental Review Program (SERP), and will continue to publish the bi-monthly Environmental Notice.

The old Office of Planning also got a new name and is now the Office of Planning and Sustainable Development (OPSD), thanks to Act 153.

And the OPSD’s administrative responsibilities now extend not only to the former OEQC, but also to the Land Use Commission.

With the OPSD being a mandatory party to many of the redistricting petitions that come before the LUC, there was concern that this could present a conflict of interest. To address this, the new law states, “The land use commission shall maintain its independence on matters coming before it to which the office of planning and sustainable development is a party by establishing and adhering to the process required by” Chapter 225M-2, the law governing the OPSD.

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