Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A big stink is haunting ex-mayor

By Lee Cataluna
Advertiser Columnist

While every small-time politician with a crazy dream and a navy blue blazer is filing campaign papers for Rep. Ed Case's seat in Congress, poor Mufi Hannemann is stuck being mayor.

As mayor, he's stuck with the job of fixing the city sewage system. Probably not what he aspired to, but it's what he signed up for.

And unlike his predecessor, Jeremy Harris, Hannemann couldn't dodge the messy parts of the job. It spilled right onto his shoes. Darn it. If only it hadn't rained so much. If only this had happened to Harris.

If you will turn to the Book of Jeremy, Chapter 7, verse one (page 149), let's read together:

"Managing Our Wastewater"

"While most people have a fairly good understanding of where our fresh water comes from, very few know or care what happens to the water after it goes down the drain. Yet how we handle our wastewater has a profound impact on the health of our community and our quality of life."

Most folks would say "Amen" to that these days.

Page 154 in Harris' "The Renaissance of Honolulu" reads: "During large storms, millions of gallons of rainwater leak into our system and end up at our treatment plants, overwhelming them. The portion of this floodwater that cannot be handled by the plant is sent out the deep ocean outfall with minimal treatment."

Deep ocean, beachfront, same thing.

"The only solution to this problem is to dig up the streets and replace and repair lines that are allowing rainwater to leak in. This is extremely expensive, and disruptive to traffic and road maintenance. Many streets on the island that are in need of resurfacing are streets that are slated for this type of underground utility work.

"Since it would waste millions of tax dollars repairing streets only to dig them up again, the city has deferred resurfacing on these streets until the underground utility work is done."

Considerate, yeah? Harris was looking out for us.

"One of our largest inflow and infiltration problems, however, doesn't deal with city sewer pipes, but with the privately owned pipes in people's yards. Studies have shown that an enormous amount of the rainwater that infiltrates our sewer system comes from this source."

So, in the World According to Harris, the problem is us and rain falling in our yards.

While Hannemann can't very well abandon ship and run for Congress, Jeremy Harris probably can't pull it off, either. He dodged the sewage, but not the stink.

And we have his book to remind us. Guess it was worth the expense after all.

Lee Cataluna's column runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach her at 535-8172 or lcataluna@honoluluadvertiser.com.