Wastewater treatment plan released

The Final Environmental Assessment for the ‘Ele‘ele Wastewater Treatment Plant Facility Plan offers a look at what may occur there between now and the year 2025.

The recently released plan consists of three planning intervals: near term, middle term and far term. The near term improvements will be implemented between now and 2010; the middle term should be in place from 2010 to 2015; the far term developments should be applied in the following 10 years leading up to 2025.

“This particular EA is a 20-year picture of what we will be doing,” said Edward Tschupp, division of wastewater management chief. “We have no specific project going into construction in the next year.”

Tschupp added that an expansion of the plant, located off of Waialo Road in ‘Ele‘ele, should take place in the next five years; the actual design will begin in a few years.

The plan was initiated by a state Department of Health rule stating: “For public wastewater treatment works a facility plan shall be initiated when the actual wastewater flow reaches 75 percent of the design capacity of the wastewater treatment works. Implementation of the recommendation of the facility plan shall be initiated when the actual wastewater flow reaches 90 percent of the design capacity of the wastewater treatment works.”

Currently, the treatment plant receives approximately 600,000 gallons of average daily flow, which is 75 percent of the current design flow.

In the near term, the projected wastewater flow is projected to be around 750,000 gallons. The increase is the product of developments by Alexander and Baldwin in the Port Allen area and housing projects in ‘Ele‘ele.

According to the EA, this increase will not require an expansion of the treatment facility; design of the expanded facility will take place once the actual plant flow reaches 90 percent of the design capacity.

Improvements in the expansion phase include the repair or replacement of station flow meters, the installation of a fire detection and alarm system in the sludge dewatering building and the cleaning of injection wells.

The estimated cost of the near term Capital Improvement Plan project is $2.5 million.

For the middle term, the projected wastewater flow of 870,000 gallons will exceed the capacity of the plant and require an expansion of the facilities. Improvements include the construction of a new ultraviolet disinfection system, the construction of a new electrical building and the acquisition of land for future expansion of the wastewater treatment plant.

Estimated cost in the middle term is approximately $3.4 million.

In the far term, the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant will have the capacity to treat the projected flow of nearly a million gallons a day. The projected increase of flow is based on population growth estimated by the Kaua‘i Planning Department.

Far term improvements include the replacement of the existing collection system pump stations and an increase in plant staffing.

Estimated cost of construction for far term improvements is $15.2 million.

Tschupp said the cost of the improvements will primarily be paid for by the county’s Sewer Fund, which comes out of monthly sewer bills.

“It is possible that some of the improvements will be partially paid from the county General Fund,” Tschupp said. “In addition to monthly sewer billing, there is a set of one-time sewer connection charges that apply to new sewer connections. Those charges are typically paid by property developers when they develop a new residential subdivision that is connected to the county sewer system.”

Tschupp said some of the improvements might be funded by state and federal grants.

Rhoda Libre-Hayton, chairperson of the Kaua‘i Watershed Council, feels the EA doesn’t address the issue of graywater.

“Graywater has been a problem on the Westside,” Libre-Hayton said. “It’s one of the big culprits because we are low-lying.”

Libre-Hayton said the council is partnering with the Pacific Missile Range Facility to work on a solution to the graywater issue.

She said people who have building plans are forced to connect to the sewer system, but a small subdivision could participate in natural sewage systems and compost toileting.

“What we’re trying to do on the Westside is self-sustain,” she said.

Tschupp mentioned that in the 30-day comment period associated with the draft EA process, only one letter was received.

Tschupp said he was surprised, but acknowledged the lack of comments was due to the nature of the EA.

“It’s more of a planning EA,” Tschupp said. “Earlier this year on a similar EA on a similar plan, we had relatively few comments.”

The ‘Ele‘ele wastewater treatment plant was built in 1977 and receives wastewater from the ‘Ele‘ele and Hanapepe areas.

• Rachel Gehrlein, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or rgehrlein@kauaipubco.com.


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