Maui News

Start up of Pump Stations Cause Sewage Spills

February 27, 2010, 5:28 PM HST
* Updated February 28, 5:31 AM
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The public is advised to avoid entering the waters in the following areas due to possible sewage contamination. Photo by Pamela Tsutsui.

“In the face of warnings that the tsunami could be significant we made the difficult decision of shutting down wastewater pump stations in low lying areas and water service to those in these same areas,” said Dave Taylor, Chief of the County’s wastewater division. “We realized that if large enough waves impacted our pump stations while running live with electrical power, the ocean salt water would cause short circuiting and permanent damage to the pump stations. These wastewater pump stations that serve thousands of customers would be seriously damaged and repairs could take up to several months or longer. During repairs we would have had to cope with raw sewage impacting our beaches and ocean and low lying neighborhoods would have no sewer service.

“By temporarily shutting down the pump stations for the duration of the expected tsunami warning, we expected to be able to drastically limit serious long term impacts to the environment and low lying areas.

Because of the seriousness of the tsunami warning of an imminent tsunami, we weighed the difference between a temporary effect versus long term damage that and chose a temporary shut down rather than put our community through the dilemma of long term loss of sewer service.”

While power was down to the wastewater pump stations, sewage overflowed in several areas. Four pump stations in Wailuku/Kahului and one in Napili were involved.

The public is advised to avoid entering the waters in the following areas due to possible sewage contamination: North Shore from the Kahului Wastewater Treatment Plant to the Waiehu Golf course; West Maui in the Napili area. There were no wastewater spills in South Maui. Signs are being posted at affected areas. The signs will be removed after testing reveals that water quality is normal.

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(Posted by Wendy Osher:  Supporting Information courtesy County of Maui)

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