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Kokua Line

June Watanabe

Tuesday, December 16, 2003


Directing rainwater
to sewers can be
devastating


The public needs to know the "devastating sewage spill impacts that entry of rainwater can have on the sewage system," says Roy Abe, co-chairman of the public education committee for the nonprofit Hawaii Water Environment Association.

Abe contacted "Kokua Line" after reading about the city sealing a manhole cover on Dudoit Lane because nearby residents were opening it up to get rid of rainwater flooding the area ("Kokua Line," Dec. 11).

"Folks who open manhole covers or direct roof gutter downspouts and outdoor drains to the sewer to relieve flooding often don't realize that in addition to breaking the law, they are potentially creating a big problem to downstream folks by causing sewer overflows and treatment plant overloading problems," he said.

The association has an ongoing program to educate the public about keeping rainwater, grease and other objects out of the sewer system. Earlier this year, it produced and broadcast three public service announcements.

It also produced a sewage spill prevention brochure that's being mailed to sewer customers throughout the state.

On Oahu the brochures are being sent by the Board of Water Supply to its customers.

Unfortunately, Abe said, many condominium/apartment dwellers won't get the brochure since they do not receive sewer bills.

However, brochures -- funded through grants by the Environmental Protection Agency, state Department of Health, the City and County of Honolulu, Learning Education Technology and the McInerny Foundation -- are available by writing to HWEA, P.O. Box 2422, Honolulu, HI 96804.

Information also is available on the association's Web site, www.hwea.org.

People need to know that rainwater essentially overloads the sewer system, which can lead to sewage backing up through toilets and showers in downstream homes, Abe said.

Abe said he had talked to the owner of a home in Waimalu where everything "backed up in his toilet and flooded his whole house" during recent rain.

"Overloaded sewers also spill sewage into the streams and ocean and can create health and environmental hazards," he said.

Members of HWEA include engineers, planners, waste-water treatment plant operators, government officials, scientists and educators.

Question: What is Gov. Lingle's e-mail address?

Answer: You can reach Lingle at gov@hawaii.gov and Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona at ltgov@hawaii.gov.

You can get more information on Lingle's Cabinet members, senior advisors, chief of staff and how to contact them at gov.state.hi.us.

The Web site also provides information about the 135 boards and commissions that the governor's office oversees and tells you how you can apply to become a member.

'Kokua Line' on vacation

Happy holidays to all our readers. "Kokua Line" will resume on Wednesday, Jan. 7.


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See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
E-mail to kokualine@starbulletin.com

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