HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Navy is putting together a plan on how families with fuel-contaminated water can flush out their pipes. But a lot of unknowns remain as to when they can move back home to do that.
It’s still not clear when families can actually flush out the water in their homes. The Navy still has to flush out the entire system of about 25 million gallons of water.
The Navy plans to fly in massive filtration tanks to flush out the distribution lines and says it will take 7 to 14 days to filter the fuel compounds out. That’s when families can go into their homes and then flush out their water heater tanks, sinks, and the refrigerators.
While the Navy has said that it was hoping to get the families home by Christmas, there’s still a lot of uncertainty. Water samples will have to be tested before that happens.
“I would say it’s conditions based,” said Lt. Commander John Daly of the U.S. Navy. “The results of the samples will kind of dictate the speed of which we declare the water potable to drink again.”
Part of the problem is that it’s still undetermined what to do with all that water that’s been filtered.
“The water that’s flushed from here will go where it’s ultimately determined to go, and that hasn’t been decided yet. So it may go into tanks or it may go in to the sewer system,” said Andrew Whelton, a professor of Civil, Environmental, and Ecological Engineering at Purdue University.
Some will be allowed into the sewers, but the Navy is working with the EPA and the health department on what to do with most of it. For residents, who have stayed home without using running water, the uncertainty adds more to the continuing struggle.
“We would just like to know what we can look forward to, and I think that we’re all on the same page that we’re okay with the timeline possibly changing. But to know that there could be an end date in sight at some point would be a nice thing to know,” said Lindsey Kelley, a resident at Halsey Terrace.
The Navy adds that it’s doing all it can to get families back into their homes but also do it safely. It has enlisted a team of experts from Purdue University to help with flushing out the homes. Families will get some help when the time comes.
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“To provide support to a community this large, I’ve never seen it before,” said Whelton, “and I do expect that the military will support families and others as they come back.”