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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 9, 2003

Ala Wai dredging all pau

 •  Graphic (opens in new window): Cleaning out the Ala Wai Canal
 •  Large shrimp thriving in Ala Wai Canal muck

By James Gonser
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer

After more than a year of work, the dredging of the Ala Wai Canal was completed yesterday with 185,801 cubic yards of trash, debris and muck pulled from the Waikiki waterway.

With the dredging of the Ala Wai Canal finally complete, this is what the waterway looked like yesterday from a vantage point near the McCully Street bridge.

There are no "islands" anymore in the middle of the Ala Wai Canal now that all the dredging has been done, said Eric Hirano, engineering chief of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

The sight of booms, utility boats and a dredge mounted on a barge had almost become as much a part of the Ala Wai scene as racing canoes and power-walkers. Work crews snagged and removed everything from carpets and tires to car batteries and shopping carts and filled at least 30 Dumpsters that were taken to the city landfill, said Neil Williams, project manager for American Marine Corp.

The project even made national news when several giant mantis shrimp, a rare discovery, were caught in the canal and eaten by some of the workers.

Dredging of the 2-mile canal to a depth of 6 to 12 feet began on Aug. 22, 2002. Two decades of sediment and debris had left the canal only inches deep in sections, and American Marine Corp. won the $7.4 million contract to remove the muck.

Most of sediment was taken by barge to a federally approved ocean dumping site about four miles off the coastline at Honolulu International Airport.

In the final portion of the project, a 400-foot section near Kapahulu Avenue, workers removed 1,650 cubic yards of sediment that officials say is likely to contain pollutants, including chlordane. Chlordane was Hawai'i's termite ground treatment of choice until it was banned for commercial use in 1988.

That material was taken to a disposal site at the airport's reef runway for treatment. There, under a plan approved by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the dredged material was dumped into a lined pit, dried and then mixed with a cement binder. It is now structural fill at the airport.

American Marine also completed a project for Hawaiian Electric Co. yesterday to remove two old power cables from the canal near the McCully Bridge, said HECO spokesman Bruce Benson.

Two active cables remain in the canal, and they will be replaced before a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to dredge the canal to 13 feet deep is started in 2008, Benson said.

Eric Hirano, engineering chief for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, said the canal should be dredged every 10 years, but the next state dredging would be in 2018 after the Army Corps work.

Hirano said the project went smoothly with minimal complaints about noise and foul smells, but recreational use was limited while work progressed.

"I think it is hard to see the difference but there are no islands in the middle of the canal anymore," Hirano said. "We're glad the project is done and the public can enjoy the use of the canal again."

Reach James Gonser at jgonser@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2431.

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