Council set to vote next week on $1.7 million Alii Drive sewer project

  • LAURA RUMINSKI/West Hawaii Today file photo Workers from Isemoto Contracting attempt to locate the pipe responsible for a 2017 sewage leak on Alii Drive in Kailua-Kona.

A wastewater force main that ruptured in 2017, sending sewage into Kailua Bay, will soon be replaced if the County Council approves a measure increasing the cost to $1.7 million.

The project will be paid for with $1.5 million in state water pollution control revolving loans and $200,000 from county general obligation bonds and other sources.

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That’s $400,000 more than first anticipated. It was revised upward based on engineers’ cost estimates for construction and project contingencies, said county Environmental Management staff in a request to the Council, which will take up the measure next week.

Kailua Bay was closed to swimming and fishing for two days following the spill. The leak occurred near the Lanihau Wastewater Pump Station on Palani Road fronting King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. The waste flowed into nearby storm drains that empty into the bay.

The county stemmed the leak at the time, but the emergency repairs to sections of the failing 6-inch cast iron pipe revealed the integrity of the entire section was severely compromised, requiring replacement of a 677-foot section to avoid additional pipe failures that would result in the release of raw sewage into Kailua Bay.

The pipes beneath Alii Drive are among the oldest on the island, and upgrading and modernizing the system could be a multi-million-dollar endeavor, said Environmental Management Director Bill Kucharski at the time.

The cast iron will be replaced with something less permeable to salt water. Estimated future flow for the pump station is 1.9 million gallons per day.

The exact date work will commence is not yet known, Kucharski said Tuesday. Once the money is approved, the county will seek a contractor for the work.

“There most certainly will be some traffic disruption,” Kucharski said. “But this is absolutely critical that we get this done.”

Kucharski said affected businesses will be notified in advance of any work beginning in the area.

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The project is just one of several crucial wastewater line repair projects around the island, Kucharski said. About $15 million worth have been identified so far.

Email Nancy Cook Lauer at ncook-lauer@westhawaiitoday.com.

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