FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 29, 2006
REPAIRED SEWER MAIN RETURNING TO SERVICE;
SEWAGE SPILL REPORTED ON SAND ISLAND
City officials say repairs on the ruptured 42-inch sewer main on Kaiolu Street appear to have succeeded, and the force main is being brought back into service.
The last of the five pumps that were being used to divert untreated wastewater into the Ala Wai Canal was shut down at 1:10 p.m. today. But intermittent bypasses may be required tonight and tomorrow, especially if heavy rains hit the area.
“The repairs appear to be holding up, but we are taking pains not to overstress the main while the concrete jacket that we poured around the repaired area yesterday cures and hardens,” said Environmental Services Director Eric Takamura. “This is not as simple as flicking a light switch.”
The underground cast concrete main pipe, installed in 1964, handles most of the wastewater from Waikiki, carrying it under pressure from the Beachwalk Pump Station to Ala Moana.
It ruptured at a tapered joint on Friday morning. Since then, crews worked around the clock to get to the pipe and expose the broken section. In order to do that, most of the wastewater that would normally flow through it was bypassed to the canal. Another small portion was diverted by pumps on Kalakaua Avenue to the Fort DeRussy wastewater system.
Also today, contaminated water warning signs were posted at Duke Kahanamoku and Fort DeRussy beaches fronting the Hilton Hawaiian Village and Hale Koa Hotel, respectively, because of high bacteria counts in the nearshore waters there. Those join the Magic Island lagoon as beaches closed because of high bacteria counts. City Environmental Services personnel continue sampling waters at 16 points from Diamond Head to Point Panic. In addition, twice-daily monitoring of the current off the mouth of the Ala Wai Canal is continuing.
Warning signs were posted at Kahanomoku and DeRussy beaches, and City personnel warned people to stay out of the water. Japanese language warning signs are being posted as well. Officials from the City Environmental Services Department and the state Department of Health met with management of both hotels this morning about the closure.
Takamura noted that aside from the bypass discharge of wastewater into the Ala Wai, bacteria counts in the canal are historically high, especially in times of heavy rain, as runoff scours the surrounding watershed and carries debris, waste and bacteria into the canal.
Kaiolu Street will remain closed to through traffic as crews clean up the repair site and the Board of Water Supply repairs an unrelated leak in a nearby underground water valve.
In addition to the Kaiolu work, the department reported approximately 108,000 gallons of untreated wastewater spilled at the Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant last night after a float control cable apparently snapped in the thickener tank return pump station. Some of the spilled wastewater is believed to have entered a drainage swale that leads to Honolulu Harbor.
That portion of the treatment plant is in the control of the contractor, RCI Construction Group, and has not yet been turned over to the City. An investigation is underway.
Mark Matsunaga, 527-5767
Bill Brennan, 527-6928