The Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant is finally back to normal operations.
One week after Hurricane Ana’s heavy rain flooded the plant last Sunday.
Heavy rain was all it took for the basement to flood with 20 million gallons of sewage.
Lines marking the wall, approximately eight feet high, showed how high sewage was up to when the basement flooded.
It took 20 people working 12 hours straight, no breaks, in pitch black darkness, to bring the sludge down.
The flooding forced the plant to shut off power.
The storm water also impacted the plant’s “clarifiers” which are huge tanks where sludge and waste gets treated and processed before flowing out into the ocean.
But five days and a lot of overtime later, the mayor says the plant is back to normal.
“It doesn’t smell too bad right now! That means the facility is up and running!” says Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
Officials say they’ve reached their goal of “cleaning up” the mess Ana made. All necessary clarifiers are up and running, and the power was back on as of 10:30 Friday night.
Now they’re looking to the future.
“Every time we go through a hurricane, or a tsunami event, we think: what can we do better? Here at Sand Island, we thought: what can we do better in case of another rain event?”
Standard operating procedures will change.
They’ll start plugging holes so flooding doesn’t happen again. Bulkheads, which are walls used to contain flooding, will also be added into the mix.
Sand Island will also look into moving their circuits from the basement to grade level, so if flooding occurs again, the plant won’t lose power.
We’re told by employees that the clean up wasn’t a pleasant experience. They’re relieved it’s over.
“It’s fine,” reassures Mayor Caldwell. “It doesn’t even stink!”