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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sewer project expedited

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

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To find out more about the city’s project plans, or to comment: www.beachwalkbypass.com.

Project hot line: 203-5777.

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Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday cleared the way for the city to begin emergency sewer work in Waikiki by suspending the normal state permit and approval process to help prevent a repeat of the huge sewage spill that began fouling the Ala Wai Canal and several beaches on March 24.

Lingle signed a proclamation declaring Honolulu a disaster area, essentially suspending various laws to allow the county to move forward on construction of a temporary bypass for the Beachwalk force main.

City Environmental Services Director Eric Takamura said the governor's action speeds up the process, relieving city officials from having to get a series of permits from various agencies and await approval before proceeding. "Now we won't have to do all that," he said.

As a result, city officials hope to begin digging and major work on the project by June 1, he said.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann is pushing to build the bypass quickly, seeking completion for the end of 2006.

When the 42-inch pressurized sewer main ruptured in Waikiki, officials pumped 48 million gallons of untreated sewage into the Ala Wai Canal rather than allow it to back up into homes and businesses. The spill fouled some of Hawai'i's most famous beaches, kept swimmers and paddlers out of the water and made national news.

"We're obviously pleased with the governor's decision to honor our request for the emergency declaration," Hannemann said. "This will allow us to proceed as planned."

Lingle's proclamation said the sewer pipe rupture "created extraordinary conditions, that may, if repeated, endanger the health and safety of the people of the City and County of Honolulu, and harm the economy of Hawai'i ..."

Takamura said city officials will still go before the Land Board tomorrow to let them know what the city is going to be doing.

The first phase of construction will run a temporary sewer line from the mauka bank of the Ala Wai Canal to join it to another sewer line near the diamondhead entrance to Ala Moana Beach Park that then goes to the Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant. That section of pipe will run along the canal bottom, Takamura said.

He said people in Waikiki will see seven pumps lined up along the canal to divert sewage flows from the existing pumping station to the new bypass pipe during construction of the bypass.

The second phase will use a microtunneling process to carve out a tunnel that will run for about 1,000 feet under the canal from the Beachwalk pumping station, along Kai'olu Street site of the March rupture to the mauka side of the canal.

The $20 million bypass line will be used as a backup in the event of another major sewer-main break in Waikiki. It also can be used during construction of the permanent fix a new sewer main that will cost an estimated $30 million. The temporary pipe will remain in place for at least five years, until the old line is rehabilitated, to serve as the backup.

Reach Robbie Dingeman at rdingeman@honoluluadvertiser.com.