Lingle declaration allows city to start sewer project
Honolulu's status as a disaster area will speed up the process
Gov. Linda Lingle proclaimed Honolulu a disaster area yesterday because of the ongoing threat of a large sewer spill like the one that put 48 million gallons of sewage into the Ala Wai Canal in late March.
"The rupture of the Beachwalk sewer force main and waste-water diversion created extraordinary conditions that may, if repeated, endanger the health and safety of the people in the City and County of Honolulu and harm the economy of Hawaii," the document reads.
Lingle's action clears the way for the city to begin immediate construction of an emergency bypass line to avoid a similar spill.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann said last week that constructing a high-density polyethylene bypass will take six months. He said the city needs exemption from state requirements for an environmental assessment of the project and state permits, to allow the city to get the project done before the winter rainy season.
A majority of the pipe will run underwater, along the bottom of the canal, held down by concrete weights, city officials said. A segment of it will go underground and under the canal and Kaiolu Street to connect with the Beachwalk pumping station.
Kaiolu Street was the site of the March 24 break in a 42-inch force main that caused the city's largest-ever sewer spill.
The emergency bypass pipeline, which will cost $15 million, is expected to be in place up to six years, while a new, permanent force main is built (at an estimated cost of $30 million) and the existing line is renovated as a permanent backup (at a cost of $10 million).
The city already spent $2 million on the emergency fix of the break and expects to spend an additional $3 million on environmental restoration.
"The mayor said he's obviously pleased that the governor decided to honor our request," city spokesman Bill Brennan said yesterday. "This will allow us to proceed as planned, as quickly as possible. The administration's goal is to get this done as soon as possible, certainly before next rainy season."
Contractors working for the city will begin excavation on the mauka banks of the Ala Wai Canal as soon as Tuesday, said city Environmental Services Director Eric Takamura. Contractors already have established a construction staging area between the canal and Ala Wai Elementary School.
The city and its contractors will still follow approved erosion prevention methods as they do the work, Takamura said. He also said city staff will explain the project to the state Board of Land and Natural Resources tomorrow, as a courtesy.
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 has set up a Web site and hot line to provide information about the Beachwalk sewer bypass: beachwalkbypass.com and 203-5777.