City crews fan out across Oahu to clean up following rain-triggered sewage spills

Torrential rains overtaxed city’s sewer system, sending thousands of gallons of raw sewage into streets and streams

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - City crews responded to at least a half dozen sewage spills following torrential rains on Oahu on Monday.

Crews with the city Department of Environmental Services fanned out to pump up the wastewater and disinfect neighborhoods.

One of the largest spills occurred in Aina Haina.

“Coming out of the sewage pipe, you could see toilet paper. The color of the water is black instead of brown when it mixes with the soil,” said Aina Haina resident Dorothy Clegg.

“It’s a little pilau. There’s definitely a methane smell to it.”

Residents said the wastewater levels got so high in some homes that it backed up into their bathroom and damaged some appliances.

“The problem is, the water drains out to the stream which drains out into the ocean,” said Clegg.

By noon Tuesday, city crews had pumped up all but the last few puddles near Clegg’s home and were disinfecting the roadway, driveways and some garages.

Aina Haina residents said the sewage line in their neighborhood often overflows after heavy or even moderate rain.

In 2012, heavy rains popped a manhole cover on their street, flooding the neighborhood with raw sewage. It happened again during the historic floods three years ago that drenched much of East Oahu.

“When there’s a rain event of 4 or 5 inches, then we see this recurring.” Clegg said.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said his team will look at where the sewer systems need to be upgraded. “There’s a lot of work to do. This is an ongoing challenge,” he said.

“We know we have an aging infrastructure.”

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