Honolulu flood risk project awaits state and city agreement

HONOLULU — Honolulu might lose $220 million in federal flood protection funding if the city and state officials cannot agree on terms, officials said.

The Army Corps of Engineers must find a sponsor for its $345 million Ala Wai Flood Risk Management Project by today to meet its federal deadline. The corps needs the state or city to become project signatories, but neither has finalized the deal, officials said.

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The corps proposed to build a wall around Honolulu’s Ala Wai Canal and install flood-control structures in the Ala Wai watershed. The 19-square-mile watershed joins water bodies from the Koolau Mountains to Malama Bay.

The corps estimates a major flood could damage 3,000 structures and cost more than $1.14 billion.

The state committed in theory to pay $125 million to receive $220 million in federal matching funds, while the city agreed to serve as the project’s sponsor, officials said.

The state “is willing to provide major financial backing for this project provided the city takes responsibility for construction and maintenance,” said the state attorney general’s office.

The city is working out details with the state about how it will provide capital funding for the project, said Andrew Pereira, communications director for Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

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Gov. David Ige sought $125 million in this year’s state budget to meet the federal cost-share requirement, but House Finance Committee Chairwoman Sylvia Luke did not advance the measure because she considered it a city responsibility.

Corps officials continue to move forward with negotiations, data refining and community outreach, said project manager Jeff Herzog.

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