Plans to prevent Waikiki from flooding still in discussion

After more than 20 years of planning to prevent a flooding disaster in Waikiki, the debate continues.
Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 10:41 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 14, 2022 at 9:04 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After more than 20 years of planning to prevent a flooding disaster in Waikiki, the debate continues.

The flood walls were a hot topic at a virtual public meeting Tuesday night to help engineers come up with a new proposal.

Previous proposals had the walls at 14 feet and then 8 feet.

Now they’re at 6 feet, but people still don’t want them.

“This the risk is too high,” said one Honolulu Resident. “I don’t know why it’s still included in alternative... I think you guys should be looking at another way to do it.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proposing a wall 6-feet high to run the length of the Ala Wai Canal to mitigate a 20-to-50-year flood.

But opponents worry about environmental problems.

Some said it would block the view.

And Gerald Andrade, board member of the Waikiki Surf Club said it would make his job difficult.

“So, when there’s constructions to the sidelines of the canal, be it from the Ala Wai bridge that the city is proposing,” said Andrade. “Or walls or raised berms along the edge of the canal that impacts the usability of the canal from a coaching perspective.”

Previous Coverage

“So it could be a six-foot wall or it could be, you know, there are ways that we can work with the sponsor there,” said Eric Merriam of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“You know, we can look at something like a three-foot walking path and a three-foot wall on top of that, right, or you can look at berms in certain areas,” Merriam added.

Other residents are still against the proposed detention basins which would collect runoff in places such as Manoa Valley District Park.

Some are asking for visual renderings.

“At the very least you have to sell it right now,” said another Honolulu resident. “I don’t know anything about it so that’s why my opposition is so far.”

The project’s planners say everything is still up for discussion and tried to explain how they would try to minimize the impacts.

“Move the water further Makai underneath the Kaholoa Bridge to where the existing baseball fields are and we will try to lower the elevation of those baseball fields and put up a series of berms,” said Bryan Gallagher, acting deputy director of the city’s Department of Design Construction.

Gallagher said the berms would create “stadium seating.”

“So, if people were watching a game or something like that people could be up on those areas watching,” Gallagher added.

Tuesday’s meeting was the 10th and final public workshop in this series.

The draft report for the plan will be released in about 6 months and there will be at least one in-person meeting.