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Sewage spills have significantly decreased through the first three months of this year, announced today by the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Environmental Services (ENV).

Through the first quarter of 2008, ENV recorded 22 spills from gravity mains, lower laterals, pump stations and force mains from January 1 through March 31.  This is a 26.7-percent reduction compared to 30 spills recorded during the first quarter of 2007.

“Our Collection System Maintenance Branch (CSM) has done yeoman’s work in analyzing and correcting problem areas, while continuing to increase efforts in maintaining the infrastructure,” Dr. Eric Takamura, director of Environmental Services, said.  “We have numerous impact projects ready to begin, including a huge area encompassing Kalihi and Nuuanu over the next 30 months, which should pay big dividends in the long run.” 

For the entire month of March 2008, only one public spill was recorded – the lowest monthly total on record.  It was caused when the Board of Water Supply broke a sewer lateral while repairing one of its own water lines.

“Our collection system has been one of my top focal points since I stepped into office,” Mayor Hannemann said.  “I have said all along that we need to address our sewer infrastructure and not be forced into any unnecessary expenditures of upgrading our wastewater treatment plants to secondary treatment.”   

The major causes of spills the past couple years are grease and roots.  Damaged pipes and wet weather spills during heavy rains are also common factors.

ENV has a preventive maintenance program (PM) implementing various facets to address both roots and grease in the city’s sewer lines. 

CSM utilizes high-pressure Vactor trucks to flush grease from sewer lines, while addressing roots by mechanical and chemical approaches.  Rods with sharp cutters on the end are inserted into affected pipes and rotated to cut away the intruding roots.  After the roots have been cut, a foam poison is run through the pipes to deter the roots from growing for the next six to 12 months.

Smoke testing, which blows non-toxic smoke into sewer lines and records where it appears, locates broken pipes, illegal connections, open cleanouts and other paths on private properties where rainwater inflow and infiltration can enter and overwhelm the sewer system causing spills.

Mayor Hannemann has appropriated more than $1.1 billion to refurbish the city’s sewer infrastructure since taking office in January 2005 and estimates another $1.5 billion appropriated in the next six years.



Markus Owens, 768-3454


Friday, April 18, 2008

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