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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Big sewer job to disrupt life

By Mary Vorsino
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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Cost: $16.9 million

Duration: April 2008 to October 2010

Job: Repair 40,000 feet of line and replace 600 feet of sewer line

Information: Lynn Kurashima, 768-8759

Source: city Department of Design and Construction

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A 30-month, $17 million sewer project will affect hundreds of homeowners in the Wilhelmina Rise community, as crews will have to go onto at least 400 private lots to reach manholes and aging sewer lines.

Traffic will be disrupted on a host of residential streets.

And the foul smell from work sites could waft into homes at times.

Despite all that, residents who attended an informational meeting on the project last night agreed the work needs to be done.

"These are really old sewers," said Eduardo Hernandez, chairman of the Kaimuki Neighborhood Board.

"It's something that has to be done," added Sanford Komatsu, who lives on Paula Drive and has two manholes and a sewer line on his lot.

Komatsu said he already has been told crews will be coming onto his property as part of the work, and was curious to hear how the work will be done.

Others were, too. About 20 people attended the meeting last night at Lili'uokalani Elementary School, in which city officials and private contractors described the project and answered questions.

Islandwide, the city is in the midst of about 50 projects to repair sewer lines. The cost of that and other ongoing projects to address the sewage system comes to more than $560 million.

Officials last night said the Wilhelmina project involves a host of difficult factors, such as sewer lines buried under driveways and behind homes on steep slopes. But they said most of the construction will not require digging trenches.

Contractors will be able to repair about 40,000 feet of pipe by feeding a material over the existing pipes through manholes. About 600 feet of pipe, however, will have to be dug up and replaced.

The 6- to 12-inch-diameter pipes to be replaced or repaired are made of clay. Most were installed in the 1950s and '60s.

The city has sent notices to residents who will be directly affected by the work, and will hold a second meeting later this year to give details on the order in which roads and homes will be affected.

Officials say the work is needed to prevent sewage spills. Smaller sewage spills have been reported in the area in recent years, especially after heavy rains. Lynn Kurashima, the city's design project engineer for the Wilhelmina Rise work, said sewer lines there are cracked or loose in a number of places.

Though the project officially starts next month, crews won't begin replacement or repair work until late summer or early fall, city officials said.

The Wilhelmina Rise work comes as the city is also preparing to kick off another massive sewer project that will replace or repair 25 miles of sewer lines from Kalihi to Nu'uanu by December 2009. The $49 million project could start as early as next month.

Kurashima said both projects are concentrating on mostly smaller residential lines. "This is part of a citywide program to address all of the defective sewers," Kurashima said yesterday, before the meeting. "We've hit the major ones, but we're not overlooking the smaller ones."

Reach Mary Vorsino at mvorsino@honoluluadvertiser.com.