Water main break spills 200,000 gallons

Water main break spills 200,000 gallons
Published: May. 10, 2013 at 10:11 PM HST|Updated: May. 11, 2013 at 7:19 AM HST
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Tracy Burgo
Tracy Burgo
James Ha
James Ha

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - [UPDATE 4:45 a.m. Saturday]

HPD: All lanes are now open at Kapiolani and Mccully street.

[Original Story Posted Below]

Honolulu averages a water main break a day. The city is replacing 40 miles of pipe around the island but that's only a small fraction of the work that needs to get done.

Last night at the McCully Shopping Center at Kapiolani Boulevard an estimated 200,000 gallons of water spewed out. In this case that's 1,000 gallons a minute lost all coming from a 16 inch cast iron pipe nearly 60 years old.

"This could very well be due to the aging infrastructure," said Tracy Burgo, Board of Water Supply Information Officer.

It took more than three hours just to shut off the water. The troubleshooter was in East Oahu and had to fight traffic. Then the flooding made it tough to find the valves. Also on a pipe this big shutting it down fast would cause more breaks.

"You will cause pressure waves within the pipe that will cause further problems and further breakage down the line," said Burgo.

Crews worked all night and all morning to repair the busted line. In all it took 19 hours to fix the pipe. Then they had to repair the electrical cables to the intersection, fill the hole and pave the road and sidewalk.

"They're just patching things up and in two or three years they'll just break again," said James Ha, McCully.

Here are some interesting stats, in all the city has 2,100 miles of pipe. More than 40 percent of the pipes are 30 to 60 years old. And 9 percent are more than 100 years old. That's so old that there aren't even records for when they were built. It's also twice the life expectancy for a typical pipe.

"Because a lot of the pipes were put in during the baby boom era those pipes are starting to reach their expected lifespan. Because of that we are starting to experience a lot of main break," said Burgo.

The current six year construction plan will replace 40 miles of pipe by 2016. In that same time span your bill will also go up almost 10 percent a year. Its money some think is just going down the drain.

"It seems to me they're doing nothing," said Casey Kwock, Fook Yuen Seafood Restaurant, who says he lost $6,000 worth of business when he was forced to close Thursday night. "Terrible. Too bad. Bad night."

"It's going to get worse before it gets better," said Keith Leber, Makiki. "The easy answer is let's replace all the pipes before they break but I realize that's not really an option. Waiting until they break is probably not the answer either."

By the way the line that broke on McCully is not on the list to be replaced in the current six year plan.

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