FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 31, 2006
RAIN KEEPS CITY CREWS BUSY
The City Department of Environmental Services responded today to a series of wastewater spills caused by the unusually heavy rains that struck an already-saturated Oahu.
“The weather service says Oahu received an abnormal amount of rain in a very short period of time,” said Deputy Environmental Services Director Ken Shimizu. “That came at the end of the wettest March in 55 years, and it simply overtaxed our wastewater system.”
As of 9 p.m., the following spills had been reported:
· An unknown quantity of untreated wastewater spilled from at least 10 points between the Manoa and Kakaako when the Ala Moana Pump Station suffered a power outage about 5:05 p.m. At the time, the station’s pumps were running at maximum capacity because of runoff that had infiltrated the sewer system. The cause of the outage is being investigated. Power was restored and standby generators were turned on within minutes, but restarting the station’s pumps takes time. The flow from the pump station to the Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant resumed at 5:30 p.m. By then, wastewater and infiltrated runoff was backing up in sewer trunks, in some cases dislodging manhole covers.
· An unknown amount of wastewater spilled at the state-owned Waimanalo Wastewater Treatment Plant. A spill began overnight, as partially treated wastewater overcame the saturated ground around the plant’s injection wells. By mid-morning, an estimated 36,000 gallons had spilled. Runoff from the heavy rains at midday – the National Weather Service recorded 2.67 inches in Waimanalo between noon and 1 p.m. – flooded the entrance to the plant, submerging a manhole and causing an unknown amount of untreated wastewater to escape from the plant inlet.
· An estimated 10,000 gallons of untreated wastewater spilled between 1:35 and 4 p.m. from a manhole for the main that feeds the Kaneohe Pretreatment Facility and entered Kaua Stream, which empties into Kaneohe Bay.
· An estimated 8,643 gallons of untreated wastewater spilled at the Aliamanu Pump Station No. 1 between noon and 3:21 p.m. because of runoff that infiltrated the system.
· An estimated 8,132 gallons of untreated wastewater spilled from the Aliamanu Pump Station No. 2 between 12:08 and 7:16 p.m. because of runoff that infiltrated the system.
· An unknown quantity of untreated wastewater spilled from the Enchanted Lake Pump Station during the afternoon after the station was inundated by runoff.
· An unknown quantity of untreated wastewater spilled from the Kailua Heights Pump Station this afternoon when that station, too, was flooded by the rains.
· An unknown quantity of untreated wastewater spilled from manholes at Hele Street and Wanaao Road in Enchanted Lake.
The state Department of Health has been notified about these spills. Warning signs are being posted and water samples are being collected. The public is advised to avoid the affected waters. Those include Kailua Beach, Bellows Beach, Waimanalo Bay State Recreation Area, Ala Wai Canal and the waters from Honolulu Harbor to Fort DeRussy Beach.
Shimizu noted that repairs on the Kaiolu Street force main in Waikiki that ruptured a week go held up and that portion of the system functioned without problems today.
Other City departments are also mopping up damage from the today’s rains. The Department of Facility Maintenance responded to another mudslide at Round Top Drive. They responded to road buckling at Kuahea Street in Palolo and are clearing mud and debris from Fern Street, apparently washed up when Makiki Stream overflowed. Department of Parks and Recreation workers helped clear yet another slide on Puuhonua Street in Manoa.
Mark Matsunaga, 527-5767
Bill Brennan, 527-6928