Sewer line repairs coming to Alii Drive

  • Workers from Isemoto Contracting attempt to locate the pipe responsible for a 2017 sewage leak on Alii Drive. (LAURA RUMINSKI/WEST HAWAII TODAY)
  • A sign is posted at Kailua Bay warning of water contamination after a 2017 sewage spill. (LAURA RUMINSKI/WEST HAWAII TODAY)
  • Workers from Isemoto Contracting attempt to locate the pipe responsible for a 2017 sewage leak on Alii Drive. (LAURA RUMINSKI/WEST HAWAII TODAY)

HILO — 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.


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

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

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.

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