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The Navy is working on plans to flush contaminated water, including shipping in massive water filters

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Navy holds demonstration for media on plans to flush contaminated water

The Navy is working on plans to flush contaminated water, including shipping in massive water filters

HONOLULU (kitv4) - How the contaminated water at Red Hill will be flushed out of the system has been asked by many.

The Navy saying nothing is set in stone just yet, but they are breaking the flushing project into two separate efforts. 

"One leads to the other," said Lt. Keji Aderibigbe. "So first we are going to clean our distribution lines and then after that and the tests are done and that water is safe, we are going to move over to the houses."

According to the Navy, the total volume of water in its water system is around 25-million gallons.

Lt. Commander John Daly saying the water will have to be turned over several times to scrub the water clean of contaminants in a process that could take 7-14 days.

"From the distribution line perspective, they are going to go into these mobilized systems called granulated activated carbon containerized filtration systems," said Daly. "The activated carbons are used to remove all kinds of activated contaminants."

Here is a picture of the granulated activated carbon systems also known as GAC. Lt. Commander Daly describing them as massive Brita systems.

GAC System

The Navy is shipping in 21 granulated activated carbon containerized filtration systems to filter the contaminated water.

According to the Navy, 21 GAC systems are being shipped to Hawai'i from Michigan and are expected to arrive later this week. If more are needed, the Navy says that won't be a problem.

The portion of the plan that is still needed to be worked out, is where that water goes once it's been filtered. Navy officials mentioning irrigation or the potential of the water being used much like repurposed sewage water.

As for the contaminants pulled from the water by the filtration system, that becomes hazardous waste. The Navy says the disposal of that waste is part of a contingency contract it has already awarded.

GAC System

The Navy is shipping in 21 granulated activated carbon containerized filtration systems to filter the contaminated water.

As for the contaminated water in homes, the Navy says that could be handled in a different way such as through the sewer system.

Lt. Commander Daly saying the sanitary sewer systems have the capability of handling that kind of waste.

A consultant working with the Navy on these plans described what would need to happen within each household during a media demonstration on Tuesday, Dec. 14.

Andrew Whelton, professor of civil, environmental, and ecological engineering at Purdue University, says the process starts with the water heater which holds the most water in a home. Then from there, marching through the household and turning attention to each individual pipe, faucet, and spigot.

WATCH Whelton's demonstration below:

How the contaminated water at Red Hill will be flushed out of the system has been asked by many.

Whelton and his team from Purdue University, one of eight agencies currently working with the Navy on its plans.

His team invited due to their experience working on large water contamination events in West Virginia and Paradise, Calif. and he says he's never seen a situation handled like it is here in Hawai'i

"After large contamination incidents, what happens sometimes utilities just flush it into the rivers and lakes and streams and many of the incidents where I've been involved, I have never seen anything like this before. With the intensity on making sure the water that may be contaminated goes somewhere safe," Whelton said.

Dr. Andrew Whelton demonstrates how contaminated water would need to be flushed from homes

Dr. Andrew Whelton from Purdue University demonstrates how contaminated water would need to be flushed from home.

The Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) has been working with several other agencies on the matter including:

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • United States Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center
  • State of Hawaii Department of Health (DOH)
  • State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR)
  • University of Hawai'i, Water Resources Research Center (UH WRRC)
  • Honolulu Board of Water Supply (HBWS)
  • Purdue University, Lyles School of Civil Engineering Environmental and Ecological Engineering

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