Ala Wai Canal Project Meeting 2019

As we reported last week, the much promoted Town Hall meeting for Ala Wai Flood Risk Management Project was held this past Tuesday, March 19th.

The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and the City and County of Honolulu Department of Design and Construction, in partnership with the United States Army Corps of Engineers, scheduled a town hall meeting on the Ala Wai Flood Risk Management Project with the public to discuss the proposed project.

The project aims to protect Honolulu and Waikiki on a larger scope and prevent a 100-year flood from devastating Waikiki and surrounding areas. A flood of this proportion could cost billions of dollars in damage, loss of property and life, damage to infrastructure, cause power and water outages and sewer spills on a large scale.  

Home owners and concerned residents of Manoa, Palolo and Makiki gathered to get answers from city, state and federal officials on the multi-million dollar plan.

After presentations from representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Honolulu’s Department of Emergency Management, the city’s Design and Construction Department and others, residents were given the opportunity to share their thoughts and express their concerns. 

Among the large number of citizens, many felt the planners didn’t provide enough information about the project early on. Others said they were worried and upset over the future of their homes. 

The plans call for work around the Ala Wai Canal to prevent possible flooding in Waikiki, together with six proposed debris, or detention basins, and other installments that are supposed to be built throughout the valleys to stop water and debris from running down the watershed into the canal in the event of a storm.

Construction work would affect 37 private properties, four of which possibly would need to be acquired entirely, according to KITV news site.

The federal government appropriated $345 million toward the project. Hawaii Governor David Ige identified $125 million from the state’s budget for the project. The maintenance and upkeep of the new facilities would fall on the city’s shoulders.

Together with residents, some schools are pushing back against the project as well, such as the Hokulani Elementary School at Manoa. Laurie Luczak, Hokulani’s principal, says a planned basin in Kanewai Park next to the school would wipe out their critical outdoor space.

Schools such as Ala Wai Elementary, Hokulani Elementary and Iolani Schools are opposed to the project for the health and safety of their students, families, faculty, and staff.

On the other hand, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says there was significant public outreach and “the project is economically justified, environmentally compliant and has received authorization from Congress for construction.”

So far, the Senate Bill, SB77 SD3 HD1  that directly pertains to the Ala Wai Canal Project keeps moving through the Legislature this 2019 Session.

To learn more about the project, go to:

https://www.poh.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Civil-Works-Projects/Ala-Wai-Flood-Risk-Management-Project

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