Hawaii’s Groundbreaking Wastewater Project Officially Unveiled

Sewer tunnel and pump station facilities enhance Oahu’s utility infrastructure

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The completion of Hawaii’s largest ever wastewater system upgrade was formally announced last week by Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. The project cost $375 million.

Following a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Consent Decree to improve Windward Oahu’s sewage collections and treatment system by June 2018, engineering and construction firm Brown and Caldwell worked with the city and county of Honolulu and its team of construction partners to deliver the Kaneohe-Kailua Wastewater Conveyance and Treatment Facilities Project on an accelerated schedule and within budget.

The solution involved connecting the Kaneohe Wastewater Pre-Treatment Facility (KWWPTF) to the Kailua Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant (KRWWTP) with a 3-mile long, 10-foot diameter gravity sewer tunnel, increasing the region’s wastewater conveyance and storage capacity while reducing overflows.

The tunnel conveys wastewater by gravity flow, sloping from a depth of 39-feet below ground level at the KWWPTF down toward the KRWWTP, ending at level 77 feet below ground. Traveling under Oneawa Hills was the preferred tunnel route, rather than placing a force main through Kaneohe Bay, therefore avoiding potential catastrophic sewage overflows into the environmentally sensitive public resource.

To lift the wastewater to the surface for treatment, a 45 mgd tunnel influent pump station was designed by Brown and Caldwell and constructed at the KRWWTP. The project also includes a new 15 mgd replacement for the existing Kailua influent pump station, generator and headworks buildings, and odor control facilities.

“This first-of-its-kind project in Hawaii is one the entire community can be proud of,” says Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “Our team has created a world-class sanitation facility that will last for generations, while also protecting the environment that’s so important to our island lifestyle.”

A significant benefit of the project is reduced energy consumption paired with improved environmental protection. Wastewater conveyance via the new tunnel system occurs through gravity flow rather than pressure, eliminating three upstream pump stations and a three-mile long force main, all considered potential community overflow points.

“Our goal was to help the city construct and deliver an important asset to protect community health and wellbeing while not adversely affecting the environment,” says Brown and Caldwell Pacific Area Leader Ray Matasci. “I feel privileged to be part of an engineered solution that protects and sustains Hawaii’s cherished landscape.”

This video below describes the $375 million Kaneohe-Kailua Wastewater Conveyance and Treatment Facilities Project, including comments from Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.


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