Raw sewage main leak at Hilo International Airport

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Photography by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7


County Department of Environmental Management crews are working to fix a leaking wastewater pipe beneath the ground at Hilo International Airport.

Wastewater was discovered bubbling to the surface on Saturday on state-owned land at the airport where a 24-inch county force main, which carries untreated wastewater to the Hilo Wastewater Treatment Plant, is buried about four feet below ground level. The exact cause of the leak is not known.

County Wastewater Division crews are attempting to fix the leak without having to shut down the Pua Pump Station in Keaukaha.

If the pump station needs to be shut down to clear the line to fix the leak, it could result in a controlled release of untreated wastewater into Hilo Bay. The release would be through the County’s ocean outfall, which discharges eight-tenths of a mile from the shoreline outside of the Hilo breakwater.

“Our crews are working very hard to minimize the effects of this leak,” said Frank DeMarco, County Director of Environmental Management. “We are taking every measure possible to avoid or reduce any discharge at the ocean outfall.”

The wastewater leak is currently confined to airport grounds and there is no immediate health or safety threat to residents. If it becomes necessary to shut down the pump station to make the repair, the Department of Health will be notified and the Wastewater Division will be prepared to sample and test water quality as directed and post warning signs of potential risks.
Repair work on the leak is tentatively set to begin on Friday.

Normal airport operations are not affected by the underground leak and will not be affected by the pipeline repair work.

County Wastewater Division crews are monitoring the leak in cooperation with the officials from state departments of Health and Transportation, and private contractors who will assist in the repair.

The wastewater force main was installed in 1991 to connect portions of the Hilo community to the Hilo Wastewater Treatment Plant located behind Hilo International Airport.

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