”’Editor’s note: After 48 million gallons of sewage were dumped into the Ala Wai Canal in March because of a sewer line break, the city and county of Honolulu is working to ensure nothing like that happens in the future by putting in an emergency bypass line. Here is the latest update.”’

The wastewater bypass pipe designed to prevent another catastrophic sewage spill in Waikiki is hooked up and ready to be used in the event of an emergency.

Less than three months after launching the ambitious project, the Beachwalk Wastewater Emergency Bypass team met the first of two key deadlines set by the administration of Mayor Mufi Hannemann.

The mayor, who announced the emergency project on May 18, applauded the completion of the contingency pumping system.

“Our residents and visitors can breathe a little easier tonight knowing that if that aging sewer line in Waikiki breaks again, we won’t face the scenario we had in March, when we had no choice but to divert wastewater into the Ala Wai Canal,” Mayor Hannemann said.

Residents have witnessed the construction, floating and sinking of a 5,000 foot long emergency bypass wastewater pipe in the Ala Wai Canal, starting in Waikiki and ending near Ala Moana Beach Park.

The pipe is now hooked up to temporary pumps along both sides of the canal. It is able to intercept and divert wastewater flows from the existing pump station to the new bypass line.

With this safety net in place, contractors can now focus on completing phase two of the project by year’s end. That includes installing a new sewer pipe below the Ala Wai Canal and Kaiolu Street in Waikiki using a state-of-the-art micro tunneling machine. The burrowing process prevents open trenching of Kaiolu Street.

It was on Kaiolu Street that the 42-year-old force main broke in March, resulting in the diversion of 48 million gallons of raw sewage into the Ala Wai Canal. It was Oahu’s largest sewage spill ever.

“As I said when I first announced this project, the health and safety of our residents and visitors are most important, and our infrastructure needs our attention now,” Mayor Hannemann said. “We are making excellent progress, and we are looking forward to having Phase Two up and running by the new year.”

Contractors who have put in long hours on the project paused for a brief blessing on July 31. The Reverend David Kaupu noted the completion of phase one and, in discussing upcoming work, noted that Kaiolu means “comforting sea.”

The majority of work near Ala Moana Beach Park has wrapped up, as has pile driving that generated noise complaints from Waikiki and McCully residents. That work also impacted two days of classes at Ala Wai Elementary School.

While the pile driving is finished, the construction site near the school will remain active throughout the rest of the year.

The BWEB team has organized a fund raising drive to purchase sound systems in each classroom. The systems are used in open air classrooms and have been applauded as an effective teaching tool.

The BWEB team has raised $17,500 toward a goal of $23,000 and more is being sought. Donors include Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company, Healy Tibbits Builders, Bank of Hawaii, First Hawaiian Bank Foundation, Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association, Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and Spa, M& E Pacific, and Ho’bkea Communications.

Check this site – http://www.beachwalkbypass.com – for weekly updates. Also a reminder that the project hotline continues to be manned Monday thru Friday from 8am to 5pm. That number is 808-203-5777.

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