Corps of Engineers works on Waiakea flood control
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needs to share important information that wasn't included in your story "Next Waiakea flood is 'inevitable
'" (Star-Bulletin, Feb. 10).
The story states that "some of the homes damaged by Feb. 2 flooding might have been spared if a long-delayed flood control project in an upland area of Hilo being studied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had been in place" might be understood to imply that that the current project would correct the flooding issue immediately.
The corps project referred to is actually a feasibility study of flood control options in upland Hilo being done for and in cooperation with the County of Hawaii.
The Waiakea Stream Flood Damage Reduction project is authorized under the Continuing Authorities Program, Section 205 of the Flood Control Act of 1948 (Public Law 80-858). Under the terms of this authority, the scope of work is limited only to technical studies -- no design or construction until the technical studies are completed and the resulting recommendations are accepted by federal and county decision makers.
The study's scope and process were described in meetings held in February 2007 and February 2008 by the study partners. After the county and corps have reviewed and evaluated the draft study report, we will solicit public and agency comment on it. We will consider and implement or address these comments and then recommend the most effective project plan to county and federal decision makers.
We are still several years away from project implementation. This process follows our statutory authorities and federal cost shared civil works project development process. Although time consuming, this process is mandated by federal law and is intended to identify the best project and allocation of public resources in the long term.
Any corps participation in a flood mitigation project is done at the request of a local proponent and, as part of the normal Civil Works process, would include opportunities for public input.
Hawaii County is working closely with the corps on civil works issues of mutual concern, and this helps us prioritize projects. We have worked together through the entire study duration and are working together to address issues raised by the recent flooding. The county recognizes the time consuming nature of the corps civil works project formulation process and has initiated discussions with the community in developing a strategy for addressing more immediate needs.
The corps is part of the ohana in Hawaii and we value our great partnership with the state and Hawaii County. We are committed to work together for the benefit of the people of this great state.
Joseph Bonfiglio is chief of public affairs for the Honolulu Engineer District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.