Ask the Mayor: How Much Water is Wasted on Hydrant Tests?
The mayor answers questions from the public in this series.
By Mayor Alan Arakawa
Q: My compliments to both you and the Council on a splendid bus system. Would you happen to know if the bus stop fronting the State Building in Wailuku is on the list for an official bus shelter? That old sawhorse bench is getting pretty run down.
A: Yes, the State Building bus stop is on our list, and the design for the shelter has already been completed. However, numerous complications have arisen during the process of placing the shelter on the State-owned parcel. Our county Dept. of Transportation is doing its best to work with the state to make this shelter a reality as soon as possible. However, due to the complexity of the negotiations, it’s possible that the shelter will be constructed sometime during fiscal year 2016 (July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016).
Q: In a previous column you mentioned that Amala Place by Kahului Harbor would be repaved sometime this year. Well, I had a bad experience there recently because the potholes in the road were so deep, I couldn’t even drive to VIP! It’s gotten worse and worse over the past months and has become terribly unsafe. Please, do you have an update on when this heavily-used road will get repaved? Thanks very much, and thanks for providing an avenue to ask this question.
A: Yes, paving is expected to begin in about a month. You may have noticed the massive wastewater pipes that were being laid along the roadway and out toward Hana Highway in recent months. These were part of a wastewater force main project, which meant the pipe-laying portion had to be completed prior to the repaving. Wastewater division staff said the last component is a drain line that needs to be installed on Amala Place (which will help alleviate flooding and preserve the new road); then the paving can begin sometime in May. Until then, you can also drive to VIP via the airport if post-storm road conditions make for difficult driving conditions.
Q: I see a lot of water going “down the drain” when the water is being tested at fire hydrants. Is there an estimate as to how much water is being used for this testing? I am sure that there are many that can use this water for agricultural purposes. Thank you for any suggestions on the usage of this resource that could be utilized, especially when we are in a drought condition when the agricultural industry can certainly use this resource. Best regards.
A: Department of Water Supply technicians flush fire hydrants at dead-end locations for water quality purposes, but the amount of water that is flushed is different for each site depending on the location of the hydrant/standpipe in relation to the main line.
Calculations were done to determine the flushing time needed to move the water from the main line to each hydrant/standpipe. The regulated flushing helps prevents the water from stagnating in the dead-end locations by scouring the inside of the pipe, removing sediments, including built-up silt and biofilms, maintaining chlorine residuals, and clearing the system of any discolored water. Unfortunately, it would be extremely costly and impractical to collect the flushed water in a tanker, which would require a tanker truck, driver, flag-man and technician; this represents three vehicles, three employees and numerous additional work hours to flush one hydrant.
The water also cannot be flushed onto an adjacent property due to the velocity of the water, which could damage landscaping or create other problems. As for the hydrants themselves, the department conducts a hydrant maintenance program that includes clearing brush/vegetation around the hydrant, cleaning the fire hydrant or standpipe, painting, renumbering hydrants, greasing the caps, operating the valves, checking for leaks, taking PSI pressure readings, and recording the date and time of the maintenance.