LIHUE — Waking up and smelling the roses is not necessarily a privilege for Wailua Houselots residents and business owners, especially during peak hours when a foul odor coming from area manholes is strongest.
“This is a monster in our backyard,” said Mike Fernandez, who has lived in Wailua Houselots for 62 years. “Evidently, it’s taking so long to get it fixed.”
To him, the area residents should be compensated financially for having to put up with the smell, just like Kekaha residents who are compensated for having the island’s landfill in their “backyard.”
But after years of suffering, a solution may soon be on the way.
In August 2012, county officials said they found the key to reduce the foul smell that has haunted the area for years, which mainly comes from the manhole by the county’s Coco Palms Sewage Pump Station.
The solution is an equipment called OHxyPhogg, which basically pumps a mix of ozone and water into the manhole to react with and stop the foul odor.
Ed Tschup, chief of Wastewater Division at the county Public Works Department, told the Kauai County Council Wednesday that the $200,000 equipment is being custom-fabricated on the Mainland.
The county, he said, should begin installation as early as December or January.
When sewer lines in the Houselots fill up, the sewage levels rise inside the manholes in the area. The pump station at the corner of Haleilio Road and Kuhio Highway then sends the sewage to the Wailua Wastewater Treatment Plan near Lydgate Park.
As the wastewater level rises and drops inside the manholes, hydrogen sulfide is released into the air, creating most of the foul odor.
The area has a few manholes, which are all part of the sewer system. But the one manhole by the Coco Palms Sewage Pump Station appears to produce most of the foul smell.
The patented proprietary system equipment, Tschup said, mixes ozone with eight gallons of water per hour, which is then sprayed with two nozzles into the manhole, destroying the hydrogen sulfide molecules.
There are other things involved in the smell, but Tschup said the hydrogen sulfide is the major culprit. There are also problems along Papilla Road, but the county is addressing the manhole by the pump station first.
Tschup said the county has a limited history of dealing with odor problems and has learned a lot while trying to solve the issue at Houselots.
When Tschup met with Wailua Houselots community a year ago, he said the problem started in the 1970s, when the sewage system was extended to the coastal resort area, but it got worse when the system was extended to Kapaa in the 1990s.
At Wednesday’s council meeting, he said there are multiple approaches to deal with foul smells at pump stations, and although the same system may be an option to address problems at other stations on Kauai, what works well for Coco Palms may not work well elsewhere.