City looks to replace Kapolei force main after 3rd sewage spill in less than a year

There’s frustration over a recurring problem in West Oahu after yet another sewage spill near Ko Olina.

The city says it’s from the same pipe that spilled more than 200,000 gallons in November.

According to the city, data shows the new break occurred on Monday, Jan. 2, at 10:27 a.m., about 30 feet away.

However the city wasn’t notified until the following day, Tuesday, Jan. 3, at 7:45 a.m. Crews were on scene at 9 a.m. The state Department of Health was notified an hour later, and the spill was contained by 10:30 a.m. — 24 hours after it began.

Officials say preliminary observations indicated corrosion caused the break, which discharged an estimated 137,400 gallons of untreated wastewater.

A portion of the spill reached a drainage basin and crews were able to recover 6,000 gallons with a Vactor truck. None of the spill reached the ocean.

A third-party contractor completed repairs to the main late Wednesday morning, Jan 4, by replacing approximately 13.5 feet of the 20-inch force main and restoring flow to the pipe.

This is actually the third sewage spill from that same force main since April. So what will the city do to avoid another spill in that area?

Officials say the main will have to be replaced, and it’s also looking at how to protect the pipes so they last longer.

City crews were back at it again, cleaning up a mess that just keeps happening in that same area. The city tells us that the section of the pipe that broke in November was replaced, but this week’s spill happened in another section of the same pipe.

“It’s the same force main line,” said city Environmental Services Director Lori Kahikina. “The line is maybe about 8,000 feet and the November spill occurred in a certain location. This spill is about 30 feet away, so it’s not the same break in the line.”

1-3-force-main-map

Several vacuum trucks were sent to the area throughout the day. We counted about a dozen of them. A larger truck can collect up to 2,000 gallons.

That pipe caused the same problem even before November. City crews were also sent to clean up a spill nearby back in April.

Some say that the city should be replacing the whole thing rather than just sections of the pipe.

“There needs to be a serious look on policy and how we’re going to move forward and really improve the sewer infrastructure for the city,” said Sierra Club Oahu Coordinator Jodi Malinoski. “It’s not working, so we need to make some major changes.”

“It’s just very disappointing,” said City Councilmember Kymberly Pine. “I think this is a testament of we need to be worried about all of our systems. As soon as the first main break, we should analyze the piping and see if there’s something wrong with the pipes.”

The city says the pipes in the area are less than 30 years old and are supposed to last up to 50 years. But with the recurring problem, the city says it will be replacing them and will look into how to protect them better.

Pine tells us there is money in the budget and with emergency funding, crews can start later this year.

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