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The City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Environmental Services (ENV) announced today that sewage spills are down for the second-straight quarter this year.

In the second quarter of 2008, ENV recorded 20 spills from gravity mains, lower laterals, pump stations and force mains from April 1 through June 30.  This is a 51.2 percent reduction compared to 41 spills recorded during the second quarter of 2007.

“My staff is working very hard stepping up our preventative maintenance programs, while addressing nearly 2,100 miles of our collection system and 70 pump stations,” Dr. Eric Takamura, director of ENV, said.  “We are currently tackling approximately 50 projects related to our wastewater system.  It is an arduous task, but a vital component to preserving the environment and safeguarding the health and well-being of our residents.”

In addition to the second quarter decline, ENV shows a 40.8 percent drop (42 to 71) in sewage spills during the first six months of 2008 as compared to the same stretch in 2007. 

“Fixing our collection system has been one of my top priorities since coming into office,” Mayor Mufi Hannemann said.  “I promised to address these challenges as part of my campaign for mayor in 2004, and I am happy to see positive results.  There is no doubt our city’s sewer system is in better shape today than it was three and a half years ago.  We’ll continue to do the work necessary to make more improvements as we move forward.”

The majority of spills continue to be grease, roots and debris.  Other common factors associated with spills are broken or sagging pipes and wet weather.

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

ENV’s Collection System Maintenance utilizes high-pressure Vactor trucks to flush grease from sewer lines, while addressing roots by mechanical and chemical approaches.  Crews insert rods with sharp cutters into the ends of affected pipes to cut away intruding roots.  After this process is completed, crews shoot a foam poison through the pipes to deter roots from growing for the next six to 12 months.

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

Additionally, the Environmental Quality’s Regulatory Control Branch of ENV addresses commercial grease from restaurants and residential grease through its FOG (fats, oil, grease) program, which includes inspections, investigation of problem areas, follow-up warnings and enforcement actions, along with outreach and educational programs.

Mayor Hannemann 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 in the next six years.



Markus Owens, 768-3454

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

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