EPA completes sewer inspection following Maui wildfires

March 13, 2024
Through the use of robotic cameras for condition assessment, EPA shared video inspections with the County of Maui for emergency repair prioritization.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has completed inspecting the sanitary sewer lines in Lahaina, Hawai'i. EPA cleared debris, such as sediment, rocks, rags, and grease from the lines.

Once cleared, a robotic camera was used to assess conditions of the lines and identify any impacts from the fire. Video footage was shared with the county for review. This work will allow the County of Maui to prioritize emergency repairs of damage caused by the August 2023 wildfires, including repairs needed to protect the wastewater treatment plant from excess infiltration of water through damaged sewer pipes.

“Collaborative efforts in Lahaina continue as we determine the most efficient paths forward,” said Karl Banks, EPA’s Incident Commander for the Maui Wildfire Response. “EPA is privileged to uphold support to the County of Maui Department of Water Supply and Department of Environmental Management in concurrence with the Hawai'i Department of Health as we move forward in critical infrastructure inspection and mitigation. Our shared goal is to see the people of Lahaina return to their homes with safe and reliable water service as soon as possible.”

“The County of Maui Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is grateful for the support and assistance provided by the EPA in assessing the damage of our existing wastewater collection system in Lahaina. Due to DEM’s limited resources (shortage of personnel and specialized equipment), this monumental task would not have been completed in the expedited timeframe that it was, without EPA’s support and willingness to work with our Wastewater Reclamation Division,” said Shayne Agawa, Director of the Department of Environmental Management. “The completion of this critical task will allow the County to move forward in making the necessary repairs to restore wastewater service to Lahaina Town.”

EPA evaluated all 97,749 linear feet of lateral sanitary sewer lines in approximately one month. EPA cleaned and assessed all sewer lines which the camera rover could enter and collect data on. Sewer segments that were inaccessible, damaged, or obstructed were flagged for the county for additional assessment and work.

EPA successfully gathered data from 40% of these deferred segments, e.g. location of a line break, which will help the county prioritize future work. EPA is continuing to provide wastewater technical assistance to the county.

EPA also continues to provide technical assistance to the County of Maui Department of Water Supply by conducting drinking water sampling. These sampling efforts will inform the county of contamination from the wildfire in the drinking water lines. EPA is sampling the distribution system, with crews sampling from fire hydrants in areas affected by the wildfires.

EPA is sampling for water quality parameters commonly found in potable water systems after buildings burn. Over the coming weeks, EPA will coordinate with the County of Maui Department of Water Supply to conduct the next phase of sampling in drinking water lateral lines that bring water from the main line to the house or business. In the final phase, lines that are sampled and determined to be contaminated will be cut and capped so contamination does not enter the main line.

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