Think About It: Ana-kinda - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News Now, Local Programming

October 30, 2014

Think About It: Ana-kinda

Hurricane Ana was kinder to our islands than it first appeared to be, as it veered south, dumping plenty of rain but not much damage-causing wind. However, the huge rainfall caused major problems at the Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant, with water rising as high as eight-feet to the top of doors. Yes, the you-know-what not only hit the fan, it also hit panels and vital electrical equipment. With one sewage-carrying channel off-line due to repair work, the sludge and rainwater could not be effectively handled by the single remaining channel and the power got knocked out as the underground room filled up with nasty stuff. 

But here's the bigger concern, a federal consent order mandates that the city of Honolulu make major sewer upgrades… by the year 2035. 2035! That's over 20-years down the wet, stinky, and windy road, and when, not if, we have another huge water dumpage, what will prevent the sensitive, plant-running instruments below ground from frying or going out again? This Sand Island plant treats sewage from Hawaii Kai all the way to Red Hill, and since water runs downhill, even two working channels might not be enough to prevent major damage at Sand Island when the next storm hits. Surely we can't be waiting 20-years to update a system in need. Is there a plan in place to start upgrading infrastructure, or are we going to push it down the road? And what kind of slap on the wrist is it when the Feds tell you to fix something- within 21 years?!

Now I am no engineer, and costs will be high, of course, but it seems like we need to move vital operating electrical conduits to the first floor, or higher before 2035. And we probably need to add an extra channel and more flotator clarifiers as population grows and water usage grows. I don't know what a flotator clarifer actually is, but since there are eight of them in the Sand Island plant, they sure must be important in sewage treatment. Mayor Caldwell stated that Hurricane Ana "…left us a good kick in the butt", perhaps a pun there knowing that sewage overflowed. That's true, and the place that handles a lot of Oahu's stuff needs a makeover soon, and not two decades from now. Think about it…

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