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Proposed changes to Ala Wai aim to prevent Waikiki floods

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As part of a flood prevention plan, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proposing to build in-stream debris basins along streams feeding the Ala Wai Canal and erect 4-foot-high flood walls along the canal. Debris got trapped in a corner of the canal near the McCully Street bridge after heavy rain in August.

As part of a plan to help prevent flooding in Waikiki, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proposing to change the Ala Wai Canal.

The changes were presented Wednesday at Washington Middle School followed by public comments, KITV reported. The project would build in-stream debris basins along the Makiki, Manoa and Palolo streams and in open spaces of the urbanized part of Waikiki’s watershed. Four-foot-high flood walls would also be added on the Ala Wai Canal.

“We’re designing the walls so that people will still have an ability to look into the waterway, and canoe paddlers, especially, who use the canals on a daily basis, will have the ability to get in and out of the canal without major problems or difficult problems,” said Derek Chow with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The corps wants to spend $173 million to complete the project, but no funding has yet been approved.

Officials said it is only a matter of time before the Ala Wai Canal overflows during a severe storm.

One study predicts flooding from the canal could cause as much as $318 million in structural damage.

In 2006 the city temporarily closed Waikiki’s beaches after 48 million gallons of raw sewage poured into the Ala Wai Canal bordering the area’s hotels and condominiums. That spill occurred after a sewage line ruptured following weeks of heavy rain, forcing the city to divert wastewater into the canal.

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