A sewage spill near Ko Olina has turned out to be much worse than what the city originally estimated.
It happened last week Wednesday, Nov. 30, near the golf course. The city said a 16-inch main broke and more than a thousand gallons of sewage spilled in the undeveloped area.
We pressed the city on Tuesday, Dec. 5, after we spotted work crews back at the site spraying it with chemicals for several hours. We’ve since learned that the spill was considerably more than a thousand gallons. A spokesman told us late Tuesday afternoon that more than 200,000 gallons of sewage spilled from that pipe.
We reached the site at around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday and city workers were already spraying the area with a hose that was connected to large truck. For hours, they kept spraying as they slowly went down the dirt road for about a half-mile that led to the Ko Olina sewage pumping station.
Sources tell us it’s unusual for city workers to come back to the site nearly a week after it happened, but they were forced to to do it because guests and residents in the area were complaining about the smell.
A similar incident occurred in the same area in April. At the time, the city said workers were cutting kiawe wood nearby so it was fortunate that they spotted the spill right away. The city said a thousand gallons spilled from that incident also.
We called the city Department of Environmental Services multiple times to get answers on last week’s spill. What time was it reported? When was it fixed? How much sewage normally flows from that pipe? Keep in mind that this is a force main.
We checked the city website and the two pump stations in this area are designed to handle millions of gallons every day. A spokesman emailed us and said the spill is estimated at 201,600 gallons and did not reach the waterways.
As far as why the crews came back nearly a week later, the city said it wanted to apply another dose of disinfectant. The area that was sprayed was more than an acre. But still we got no answers on when it started, how long it took to fix, and why it happened in the first place.
In August last year, there was a massive sewage spill in the Ala Moana area. Initially, the city told us that 129,000 gallons had spilled. When the final report was made and we pressed for answers, the city then told us that nearly 500,000 gallons had spilled.
The city will have to submit a report with more specifics to the state health department.