Work starts on stopping tidal flooding in Mapunapuna - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Work starts on stopping tidal flooding in Mapunapuna

Jan Yokota Jan Yokota
Cora Bustamante Cora Bustamante

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After years of putting up with a street filled with seawater and sewage, businesses in Mapunapuna are welcoming a fix that the landowner hopes will finally put an end to the problem.

The high tide often turns the intersection of Ahua and Kilihau streets into a lake, because it was built below sea level.

It's been a problem for decades, one that landowner HRPT Properties Trust has already spent $800,000 studying to try to find a solution since it bought the property in 2003.

"My understanding is that it started in the mid 1980s, soon after the H-1 viaduct was built, and I think Moanalua Stream was diverted," said Jan Yokota, HRPT Pacific Region vice president.

At its worst, the water can be two feet deep, stalling car engines and more.

"Oh, it gets bad," said Cora Bustamante, who works at United Truck Rental, fronting the flooded area. "To the point where we see fishes, actually, tiapias, that go over there."

And the problem isn't limited just to high tide. When the tide goes out, some of the water stays.

About a block away, engineers are at a drainage canal, preparing to install what are known as "duckbill valves." They are one-way valves that use the energy of the incoming tide to keep it closed, while storm water going the other way will open the valve to discharge to the ocean.

"It seems very simple, but until we did our studies, people didn't realize that there were two sources of the problem," added Yokota. "Not just the tide coming in, but also the drainage water."

For area workers like Bustamante, the solution, if it works, will be welcome.

"For our own personal vehicles we can park on the street," she said, because employees can't park on the United Truck Rental lot.

"We can actually go buy lunch without getting stuck in the waters over here, and it will probably be good for our business, too," Bustamante added.

The city estimates it will cost $600,000 to install the valves and improve the drainage canal. Engineers hope to have the work done by the end of May.

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