Seven years ago 48 million gallons of raw sewage spilled into the Ala Wai Canal when a force main bursted. Forty-million dollars later, the pipe put in as an emergency bypass is about to be removed.
"We never want to have that happen again, it became national news, it really impacted tourism and affected health and safety of our visitors alike," says Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
The city says they'll be removing the last stretch of waste water pipe from the Ala Wai canal starting July 15, but it wont happen overnight. The bypass pipeline runs under water down to Ala Moana Blvd. That's 5,135 feet of of pipeline filled with over one-million gallons of waste water.
"We were scheduling it about 35 days, mid July to end of August, but there is a possibility it can be done earlier," says Eldon Franklin, Wastewater division Chief for the City and County of Honolulu.
The pipe will be flushed out. All sewage will be pumped into a nearby manhole and then the pipe will be floated. People can expect to see a sight similar to a year ago when air bubbles caused a section of the pipe to emerge from the canal.
"Then cranes will pull it off to land, it'll be cut in segments by chainsaw and hauled away to a yard where it will be re-used," says Mayor Caldwell.
The city no longer needs the bypass line. The old force main that originally broke back in 2006 has been repaired. To make sure another spill doesn't happen again, the city installed a second permanent pipeline.
"The only alternative when the force main broke in 2006 was to crank it shut which means sewage would back up through Waikiki," says Caldwell.
Aside from Waikiki, sewage also comes into the pipeline from Kapahulu, lower Makiki and Mo'iliili as well. The new Beachwalk force main line is six feet in diameter. The city says that's large enough to handle the area's sewage for years to come.
Once the city is finished removing the emergency bypass line, they plan on re-opening the biking and walking path that runs on the mauka side of the Ala Wai canal. There's also a possibility of building a dog park somewhere between Iolani school and the canal but funds have yet to be secured.