City begins trucking excess sewage from Sand Island

Published: Aug. 16, 2011 at 9:00 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 16, 2011 at 10:49 PM HST
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Markus Owens
Markus Owens

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - If you catch a whiff of something nasty smelling on the roads we know what it is. With sewage levels beyond capacity at the Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant the city began the process of hauling raw sewage out on surface streets to Waipahu.

The first truck carrying 5,000 gallons of raw sewage left this morning at 8:00. Along the 14 mile route it will pass various businesses and restaurants and at times it hitting drivers with the smell.

"Yeah you can smell it from back there. I guess they got to go someplace," said a man behind the truck.

Some people were surprised to learn what was idling next them at a traffic light.

"Oh great. That's not good," said a woman who was waiting at the light next to the truck when she learned what was inside.

The truck turned off Sand Island Access Road and went west on the H1 freeway. It took exit 8B to Waipahu where it passed some houses and the high school before turning on Waipahu Depot Street. It passed more apartments and homes before ending up at the Waipahu pump station. Crews hooked it up and dumped it down the system.

"Local grown," said one of the workers as the sewage went down the pipe.

It took half an hour to drain the truck. The sludge then goes through seven miles of sewer pipes where it will dilute a bit before reaching the Honouliuli Plant in Ewa Beach.

Inspectors gathered samples and put it on ice to take back for testing.

"So what they want to do is make sure that whatever is deposited down here at the pump station does not have any adverse affect down there (at Honouliuli)," said Markus Owens, Honolulu Environmental Services Department.

The city is also testing air quality. They use a device called an Oda Log which tests the air. It's wrapped in foil so it doesn't cook in the sun. Levels came back clean today and the city maintains everything is safe even though there is a strong smell.

"No matter where you go across the country you are still going to get a smell. No one can tell you that they are odor free," said Owens.

The city says it's been trucking sewage for decades from all over the island. This just happens to be the first from the Sand Island facility which is why they are doing an environmental assessment. So after the trial period ends what can you expect?

"I don't know what will happen then but we'll evaluate the data from all of this and make a determination at that time," said Owens.

The trucking will continue through September 9. They'll do one truckload a day Monday through Friday excluding holidays.

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