Council questions plan to truck sewage sludge

Tim Steinberger
Tim Steinberger

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With sludge on the mind the entire Honolulu City Council showed up to a committee meeting to question the city's Department of Environmental Services Director over plans to truck raw sewage sludge around the island.

Sewage happens and in a few weeks more of it will be driven from Sand Island to Ewa Beach.  That's because the Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant doesn't have enough space and the Honouliuli Wastewater Treatment Plant does.  It's all to prevent a bigger blowout.

"If something was to occur in the digester and then you cannot treat sludge or say you had an upset in the digester you certainly do not want the system to back up and have it flow over," testified Tim Steinberger, Department of Environmental Services Director, at the Committee on Public Works and Sustainability Meeting.

"You're affecting so many other communities so I hope when you plan this next project you're looking at when it will be too full so you don't have to look at trucking," said Ann Kobayashi, Honolulu City Councilmember.

Long term the city wanted to spend $26 million on a new digester but the council wiped away that money from the budget.  Some council members want to look at new technology which seems to scare the city.

"To put a lot of money into something new and completely design a brand new treatment plant around a single technology just doesn't make sense to an engineer," said Steinberger.

Still the city is taking the next 90 days to hear alternative ideas. Steinberger invited council members to share the technologies they would like considered with his office.

Councilmember Romy Cachola called that a "cop out" because he says council members are not the experts in the subject matter and urged Steinberger to have an open mind when it comes to change.

In the meantime the city still plans to start test runs of trucking sewage starting August 15.  At most one 5,000 gallon truck load a day will be hauled for 30 days.

The environmental assessment on the trucking impact is still underway.

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