Mayor pumps up emergency sewer plan
An temporary bypass line at Ala Wai could be up in six months
The city hopes to install an emergency bypass line for its Beachwalk sewer main before the winter rainy season, Mayor Mufi Hannemann announced yesterday.
"I want to start not tomorrow, but yesterday," Hannemann said, standing just a half-block from the site of the break in a sewer force main that sent 48 million gallons of sewage into the Ala Wai Canal over six days in late March.
The spill closed some Waikiki beaches for up to a week and made the news around the country.
The purpose of the temporary line would be to prevent such a spill from happening again, Hannemann said.
The high-density plastic pipe would be removed after a permanent replacement is built, beginning in 2007, and the existing line is rehabilitated to be a permanent backup line.
Included in the $20 million cost of the line are $2 million already spent for emergency repairs in March and April, and $3 million for environmental restoration.
The emergency line could be installed in six months if the state will waive or speed up environmental permit applications that normally take months, Hannemann said.
The first three months of the project would route high-density polyethylene pipe along the bottom of the Ala Wai Canal from the Diamond Head end of Ala Moana Beach Park to the mauka bank of the canal near Ala Wai Elementary School, Hannemann said.
That portion of the project also would include installing seven temporary above-ground pumps along the canal, which will be used to divert sewage to the bypass pipe while the second part of the project is completed.
The second three months of work will tunnel 40 feet underground -- going under the Ala Wai Canal and Kaiolu Street to connect with the Beachwalk Pump Station at Kuhio Avenue.
The pipe that will be submerged in the Ala Wai is the same type that is being used for a temporary, above-ground sewer line in Niu Valley, city Environmental Services Director Eric Takamura said.
The underground micro-tunneling technology that will be used to bury the pipe under Kaiolu Street and the Ala Wai Canal is the same that is being used on sewer projects in Kailua.
In a May 3 letter from Hannemann to Gov. Linda Lingle, he asked that "a state of emergency to be declared" and that the city be allowed to proceed without having to obtain customary state permits.
Lingle responded in a May 16 letter that she needed more detailed information "to determine which, if any, laws need to be suspended, and which ought to remain in force to appropriately protect health, safety and the environment."
Hannemann sent Lingle a letter with more information yesterday.
City contractors are already preparing a construction staging area on the mauka side of the canal.
Construction manager for the project is M&E Pacific Inc.; general contractor is Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co.; subcontractors are Healy Tibbitts Builders Inc. and Frank Coluccio Construction Co.; and consultants are R.M. Towill Corp., Yogi Kwong Engineers and Kai Hawaii. The city's lead department for the project is the Department of Design and Construction.
The city is hiring contractors for the job under emergency provisions of the city procurement code.
"When I campaigned for this job, I said that my biggest fear was to see a sewage spill in Waikiki," Hannemann said. "Little did I know it was going to happen under my watch, but it did. The main thing now is that we are going forward."
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Workers prepared land in back of Ala Wai School yesterday for the new Waikiki sewer line.
Beachwalk sewer plans are online
The city has set up a Web site and hot line to provide information about the Beachwalk sewer bypass: beachwalkbypass.com
The Web site includes information about the project, photos and a sign-up for e-mailed updates. The hot line has recorded frequently asked questions and a person to answer questions 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.
City and construction manager M&E Pacific representatives also will be going door to door with information in Waikiki and will be at the June 1 McCully-Moiliili Neighborhood Board meeting and June 13 Waikiki Neighborhood Board meeting.