The Department of Environmental Services Tuesday used smoke to find sewage problems in the Kailua community.
Teams send smoke into the sewage system to find where leaks happen. Smoke testing requires a non-toxic smoke bomb to be dropped into the sewer lines. Smoke should only discharge from plumbing vents.
"Our system is not designed to take that increase so it results in spills that can contaminate our ocean and our streams and is a public health risk," said Lori Kahikina-Moniz of the Department of Collection Services and Environment.
Smoke coming out of other areas indicates defects or illegal connections to the sewer system.
Authorities deliver citations to homeowners who make illegal connections. Officials also give the homeowners the steps needed to fix the problem. Officials can fine violators if the situation is severe.
Teams have tested Kaneohe, Waimalu and Foster Village neighborhoods. Officials say most of the problems found are from missing or broken cleanout caps and defective sewage lines.
Teams test block by block and reach 50 to 60 homes a day.
The test in Kailua found a large number of sewage overflows.
"This is a fairly new subdivision, so I am surprised that we found several connections to our system that weren't supposed to be there," Kahikina-Moniz said.
The proactive approach to a long-standing problem of spills, backups and overflows will be done island-wide.