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City may add staff at sewage facilities during storms - Honolulu, Hawaii news, sports & weather - KITV Channel 4

City may add staff at sewage facilities during storms

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HONOLULU -

Signs warning of contaminated water almost seem to be the norm following heavy rain storm.

A large sewage spill of about a half a million gallons took place at Ala Moana a year ago.  The city is awaiting word on fines related to that spill, so it wants to avoid a repeat.

"If something goes wrong, we want to be able to act quickly," said Environmental Services Deputy Director Tim Houghton.

Last month, Tropical Storm Darby taxed our wastewater capacity and city officials said we came close to an overload and a spill at the Sand Island treatment plant.

You may recall two years ago, the city was scrambling to deal with a 20-million-gallon sewage spill at the plant which was, fortunately, contained on site.  The threat of double storm trouble is something to take seriously.

The city said even though its system is largely automated, because we are dealing with back to back storms, it may add staff at key areas in anticipation of problems.

"We are looking at operations personnel, in terms of additional personnel for our collection system maintenance with pump trucks and in terms of mechanics and electricians," Houghton said.

The idea is to have crews in place before something happens, whether it be at Ala Moana, or Beach Walk in Waikiki.

"Preferably prevent a spill but to limit a spill if that were to happen," said Houghton.

As of noon Wednesday, the city said it had about a half a dozen tanks at Sand Island ready to handle any large volumes of wastewater generated by rains from Madeline or Lester. It’s also asking the public to kokua.   

"In the case of an event, watch your water use. Don't add flow into the system if you don't need to.  Don't connect your drain into a clean out because that’s what will cause a spill," said Houghton.

It's also reminding the public of a message its repeated before.  Do not pop manhole covers during flooded conditions.  Not only is it illegal, but you could face a steep fine and cause problems for someone else.  There is a tipping point of what the city's sewers are designed for and can handle.  Anything more than that spells trouble.

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