City Avoids Another Massive Ala Wai Sewage Spill

By Paul Drewes

(KHNL) - Honolulu's new emergency wastewater bypass line had to be used Tuesday.

And it proved to be a success!

The pipes and pumps have been in place for months and they were needed to avoid another massive sewage spill like the one this past March.

A three foot long crack in this old sewer line could have spelled disaster for Waikiki.

Without this main line by the beachwalk pump station, wastewater would have ended up in the Ala Wai Canal.

"You're talking about 5 million gallons a day flowing into the Ala Wai," said City Managing Director Wayne Hashiro. "Like last March, it would be a week to two weeks so it would be national news like last time."

But instead, the city's new emergency bypass pumps were started up and most of the sewage was diverted through these temporary pipes set up along the canal.

Most, because there was a 15-thousand gallon spill in the pit holding the cracked pipe. And...

"We had 500 to 800 gallons spill into the opposite side," said Hasiro. "We're not sure how much went into the Ala Wai, so we have our crew out there posting signs."

Now, while the sewage is flowing thru the temporary lines, work on the aging system will go on. Work that is expect to take years to complete.

So how long will these temporary lines be here? At least through next spring. That's if all the Waikiki repairs go as planned.

"We will have the new micro-tunneled line in place tied into the bypass line on the mauka side of the canal," said Craig Nishimura of the Department of Design & Construction. "At that point we will not need a line on this side of the street."

Until then, residents of Waikiki will have to put up with the noise of pumps and unsightly pipes, but at least they won't be stuck with a stinky mess.

"Although its been an inconvenience, to have the pumps and pipes here, its better than the alternative," said Rick Egged of the Waikiki Improvement Association.

The city was planning on using the new bypass next week anyway, as they needed to work on the aging sewer lines.