Mysterious sewer gases have baffled Kakaako residents for years.
Complaints have come to a head with the plan to add dozen new high-rises.
But the director of the agency charged with developing Kakakao, points to a recent engineering study by R.M.Towill and what he describes as a flow problem-- not enough poop in the pipes.
"The odor is a function of not enough poop, or wastewater. Its under-capacity and with the off-air produced, that off-air has to go somewhere,” said Tony Ching, of the Hawaii Community Development Authority.
But residents at Waterfront Towers aren't buying it.
"That’s absurd! I don’t think it’s the poop whether it's heavy, or light or how much. We need a comprehensive study of the sewers," said Sharon Moriwaki.
Moriwaki has called for a building moratorium until that study is done.
But that view isn’t shared by a fellow resident who also works a block away and who likes the idea of the neighborhood build out.
"We have to put people somewhere and Kakaako is the perfect place for it. Centralize cut down traffic, all of the above. If we have to deal with six months of smelly things while they fix what is going to be the best community of the island it's well worth the trouble," said Shaun Boyd.
Up until two months ago, there used to be a worker in the guard shack at Waterfront Towers, but the building manager said that poor worker had to wear a mask to deal with the smells.
The city has been under pressure to fix the sewer smells.
It installed two new force main pipes to help adjust the flows of wastewater into the Ala Moana pump station.
And its added carbon filters to the facility and in some manholes that weren’t properly sealed.
"There are quick fixes that have improved the condition, "said Mark Yonamine, deputy director of Design and Construction.
The city has also installed a fiberglass pipe inside a square aging six-foot by six-foot concrete one under Auahi Street.
"There was heavy corrosion due to the gases eroding the concrete and exposing the rebar and we thought it was to replace it and the quickest way was to replace it with a pipe," said Yonamine.
Yonamine assures the stench problem wasn't due to an overtaxed sewer system.
"Within Kakaako, there is enough capacity,” Yonamine said.
The study did find an uncapped pipe in one of the towers that contributed to the smell complaints.
The bottom line is the complaints are down.
Residents and businesses we talked to agree the situation has improved, although the complaints have not completely disappeared.
The city has not yet tried using chemicals to treat the sewage. Yonamine said that could get very expensive.