LIHUE — Crews from the Department of Public Works finished laying a new sewer pipe at Kuhio Highway and Leho Drive Sunday night and began demobilizing as they wrapped up a days-long effort to repair and clean up a sewage spill and get traffic back to normal.
Officials anticipate the repaving of Leho Drive near Kuhio Highway in Wailua will be completed by this week.
Officials are continuing to implement two northbound lanes and one southbound lane on Kuhio Highway around the construction site on Leho Drive.
There will be no contraflow today as it is a state holiday.
The estimated 1,000-gallon spill was reported about 6:30 p.m. Thursday. An initial investigation revealed dirt and debris had entered a pipe due to erosion, causing pressure to build up, and the pipe burst.
As crews excavated the area to install the bypass system, they discovered old fill and utilities also played a role in the damage.
“At the beginning of the upstream manhole, we found some abandoned utility conduits encased in concrete that somehow, overtime, with gravity and vibration, had made its way close to our pipeline and caused a break in the pipeline that was ultimately the problem,” said Lyle Tabata, county acting engineer.
Tabata said they also found damage from old boulders that were used as fill in 1955. Back then, they didn’t keep track of fill materials like they do today, he said.
By Saturday, much of the contaminant from the sewage had been cleaned and a bypass system installed to prevent further spillage.
Public Works crews cleaned the seeping sewage by spraying a chlorine solution onto the area, Tabata said.
Over the weekend, they repaired the entire gravity sewer line from manhole to manhole, which should prevent further spills, but there are other things out of their control that can cause spills, Tabata said.
“Such as grease, when people dump grease into the sewer system, when they dump rags that aren’t supposed to be dumped, those things can cause harm,” he said.
At this point in the process, Tabata said he’s not sure what the total repair cost will be. Crews worked 24 hours a day to clean up the spill.
“My first charge was just to fix the line and get it back operating,” he said.
There were traffic delays around the construction site. Friday night, traffic was backed up to the Lihue Airport, and Friday morning, it was backed up through Kapaa.
According to the Hawaii Department of Transportation, on average about 32,000 vehicles travel on that area of Kuhio Highway per day in both directions.