Hawaii Told To Stop Hoarding Safe Drinking Water Funds

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Hawaii’s Department of Health shouldn’t receive any more federal funds under the Safe Drinking Water Act until it cleans up its own act, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General said in a report made public Monday.

The Aloha State’s Department of Health was hoarding $100 million in unspent drinking water grants as of June 2014 — $33 million from the EPA and $67 million from the state, the IG said. Not much has changed since then, so EPA’s Region 9 office should withhold $8.8 million in drinking water grants intended for Hawaii until the state properly and efficiently spends the funds, the IG said.

Hawaii “has not managed the Drinking Water Safe Revolving Funds in a sound, efficient and prudent manner, and does not have sufficient personnel and effective tools and processes,” the IG said.

Hawaii’s DOH has less than 30 days to appeal.

Monday’s IG report isn’t Hawaii’s first warning. The EPA issued the state a “notice of non-compliance” in October 2014 because state officials violated federal grant regulations by failing to commit and spend all drinking water funds.

Administrator of the San Francisco-based EPA Region Nine is Jared Blumenfeld, a former official at the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. He was appointed by President Obama.

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