Berm proposed to prevent
future Waialua flooding

By Crystal Kua

If a storm hits, Otake Camp in Waialua is sure to be flooded, state Sen. Robert Bunda said.

"We know it's going to happen," said Bunda (D, Wahiawa-North Shore), who helped organize yesterday's meeting of federal, state and city officials, and area residents at the state Capitol's basement auditorium.

"So now how do we do it so that there's some mitigation effort so as to lessen the amount of flooding?" he said.

Berms, reservoirs, and wider and straighter stream channels are among the possible solutions discussed to alleviate the kind of flooding that led to the evacuations of 19 homes in the Otake Camp in May.

But like the fixes, the causes of the flooding are many, officials said.

"So it's a number of factors that are contributing to this flooding," said Sterling Yong, head of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources flood control section. "And what we need to look at is an entire picture from, say, the mountains to the stream."

The watershed in the hills above the North Shore delivers thousands of cubic feet of water per second to the land below.

Yong said the increase in the area's urbanization and the shutdown of Waialua Sugar are contributing factors to the inability to capture runoff.

"Whenever you urbanize, what you're doing is you're blocking the ability of the ground to absorb the water," Yong said.

Yong also said flooding is compounded when rain causes Lake Wilson, also known as the Wahiawa Reservoir, to spill over.

Bunda said a reasonable solution is coming from Stanley and Arthur Otake, whose family owns the neighborhood store and has resided in the area since the early 1900s.

The Otakes, who have been working with the state to mitigate flooding along Kaukonahua Stream for the past five years, proposed the construction of a dirt levee between the Cane Haul Road and Farrington Highway.

"Just to make it wide and deep enough to contain the water," Arthur Otake said.

They also proposed removing the Cane Haul Road bridge and replacing it with a low-lying bridge as part of the levee.

"The idea was to catch debris so it doesn't get caught on the second bridge and cause that to jam and flood," Arthur Otake said.

Yong had doubts on whether the berms would hold, and he hoped that whatever the solution, it won't give residents a false sense of security.

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