Column: Army Corps seeks to work with partners on Ala Wai project
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers understands the 2019 state legislative session ended without a definitive funding path forward for the Ala Wai Watershed Flood Risk Management project.
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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers understands the 2019 state legislative session ended without a definitive funding path forward for the Ala Wai Watershed Flood Risk Management project. We appreciated being part of the discussion and the process. We look forward to continuing our relationships with the City and County of Honolulu, state of Hawaii and community — not only for the Ala Wai project, but other projects throughout the state.
Several funding options remain available for a project partnership, and we understand the City and County is discussing those options with state leadership. As the project managers and engineers continue gathering and refining the Feasibility Report project information, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers remains committed to transparently sharing project information with concerned citizens, neighborhood boards and affected residents. Over the next three months, the Corps, with our partners, will attend and present updates on the project to six neighborhood boards.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be conducting geological exploration and collecting in-depth topographic survey data within the Ala Wai watershed, including sites in and around Ala Wai Boulevard, the Ala Wai Canal and the Ala Wai Golf Course. The collected data will not only provide updated information for the flood mitigation project, but also be useful for city and state leadership to help address other future challenges, such as climate change and coastal storm hazards.
The geological explorations will show the characterization of the soil materials in the Ala Wai watershed, as well as the locations and depths of the material. The diversity within the watershed is not limited to what we see on the surface, but also within the materials underground. While this information is important for the Ala Wai flood project, the accumulated data will be made available to our partners to educate stakeholders and assist them in making future informed decisions about the watershed.
We understand that engineering alone won’t deliver a successful project for the community within the watershed. As part of our outreach, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is hosting an industry and innovation day for industry representatives, academia and nonprofit organizations. The Honolulu District-sponsored event will provide the latest project elements and performance requirements to allow participants to comment, ask questions, provide innovations and offer suggestions to inform the project design process. The event focus will not only be on the project engineering, but also the incorporation of nature, culture and integration of the ahupua‘a concept.
As discussion on the Ala Wai Watershed continues, we recognize that ecosystem restoration is an important conversation. The Army Corps of Engineers desires to be a part of this discussion and has authorities to participate in studies and implementation of such ecosystem restoration initiatives. We’ve committed to working with the state of Hawaii and our partners to identify additional ecosystem restoration opportunities in a separate, but parallel process.
The current Ala Wai Watershed Flood Risk Management project addresses flood mitigation, but we also look forward to bringing innovations to the project, including engineering with nature where responsible.
Jeff Herzog is the Ala Wai Watershed Flood Risk Management Project Manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Honolulu District.