March 14, 2024

County Office of Recovery shares updates on sewer line, drinking water inspections, deferred properties

At the County Disaster Recovery Community Update meeting held Wednesday night, March 13, at the Lahaina Civic Center, the County of Maui Office of Recovery shared several updates for residents including progress made on deferred properties and sewer and water line inspections, and two new community engagement events.

Deferred properties

As of yesterday, 306 properties had been cleared of debris by the Corps in about 60 days, representing slightly less than 20 percent of the total properties, Col. Eric Swenson of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) informed meeting attendees. Of the properties cleared, 60 Rights of Entry (ROEs) have been returned to the County, signifying completion of USACE work in those areas. USACE has 21 crews working on clearing residential properties, and statistics on clearing commercial properties will be released when more data is available next week.

Swenson also announced that USACE will begin to address the 173 properties that were deferred after the Environmental Protection Agency could not clear household hazardous material during their Phase 1 operations due to hazards on the properties. Owners of deferred properties who have not submitted ROEs will have their properties remain deferred for an undetermined period of time.For properties that have ROEs, USACE will identify and remove hazards as part of Phase 1, then call and ask owners if they wish to participate in re-entry.

If owners are not interested in visiting their properties, USACE will schedule debris removal. Contractors will notify owners three days before lot clearing begins and will reach out again 24 hours prior to entry, offering the opportunity for owners to be present during the debris removal process. Any personal belongings found during the clearing process will be secured by USACE and returned to the owner. For more information on the County-sponsored ROE process, residents can call the USACE hotline at (877) 214-9117.

Sewer and water line inspections

EPA Incident Commander Karl Banks said the agency completed its inspection of 97,749 linear feet of sewer line. The inspection was completed in 35 days, as scheduled. During the community meeting, Mayor Richard Bissen thanked the EPA for their work that ultimately saved the County two years, far ahead of schedule.

Footage of 89,571 linear feet was submitted to the County, and 8,178 feet was deferred to the County for critical repairs and restoration. EPA operations included clearing lines to send camera drones through the pipes to analyze the infrastructure. For more information, view the EPA presentation slides at www.mauirecovers.org/officeofrecovery.

Data obtained from the EPA has been provided to a County consultant who is analyzing the data for a report that will give the Wastewater Reclamation Division a clear picture of the extent of damages to the existing sewer collection system and help in prioritizing any needed repairs to allow sewer service to be restored in Lahaina. The final report is expected in two to three weeks.

EPA also is partnering with the State Department of Health and the County Department of Water Supply to sample areas with water pressure to determine if any water or lateral lines were contaminated during the fire.

Samples are being sent to a lab as part of the testing, which is close to completion. EPA has tested 107 of 134 hydrants. For more information, visit www.epa.gov/maui-wildfires. For water advisory information, call (808) 229-5184, email R9Wildfiresinfo@epa.gov or visit www.mauirecovers.org/water.

As EPA completes sampling, the County Department of Water Supply will review test results and make corrective actions if necessary. Eventually, areas will be amended from the Unsafe Water Advisory.

Homeowners meeting

A Homeowners meeting on April 16 will address topics related to rebuilding, in response to requests from community members who own homes impacted by the August 2023 wildfires in Lahaina. The Office of Recovery is asking homeowners to submit their questions regarding what to do after debris removal and the rebuilding process before the meeting so Recovery support teams can better prepare to address key topics and questions. Questions can be submitted at https://tinyurl.com/Homeowner-Questions until April 1.

Neighborhood planning workshops

The County also announced the start of a series of Neighborhood Planning Workshops starting with Kelawea Mauka on April 20 at 3 p.m. at the Lahainaluna Cafeteria. The neighborhood meetings are geared to tackle the more nuanced issues in specific communities and will be led by the Office of Recovery’s Community Planning team.

More information on the meetings will be announced at upcoming Lahaina Disaster Recovery Community Update meetings and on www.mauirecovers.org.

To view the full presentation from the March 13 community meeting, visit the County of Maui Facebook page; no account is needed to view the meeting.

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