42-inch water main break damage still to be determined

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — One of the island’s most critical water mains, responsible for flowing millions of gallons of water into urban Honolulu remains shut own.

On Friday, contractors damaged a 42-inch main, and there is not timeline for when repairs will be completed.

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Water kept pumping out of a 20-foot deep hole, and the Honolulu Board of Water Supply said the top of a 42-inch pipe was barely exposed by Monday afternoon. BWS workers have not been able to go in to assess the damage, at this point the severity of the damage to the pipe remains unknown.

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply Public Information Officer Kathleen Pahunui said the pipe’s location is challenging,

The Moanalua Freeway runs right over it, and the pipe sits below sea level.

Pahinui said, “This one because it is so deep, we had to bring in a larger excavator. It was deeper than our equipment can reach.”

Pahinui said more work will continue after 10 p.m. on Monday once a second lane of Moanalua Freeway is closed to make it safe for workers to go down and start inspecting the damage. Although repairs could take time, workers will need to jackhammer concrete coating around the pipe as well as steel reinforcement before any damage could be noticeable.

On Sunday, the Honolulu District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chief of Engineering and Construction Todd Barnes said, the damage was caused by contractors installing a sewage line under Moanalua Freeway.

Barnes said, “Our plans and specifications indicated we were going to miss the main by quite a bit, and we weren’t anticipating this.” 

KHON2 News reached out to the Army Corps of Engineers as well as the contractor Hensel Phelps to learn more about the project’s planning and where construction went wrong. No response has been received yet.

The BWS said the plans used by contractors to know where certain utilities lie underground are not always accurate with exact locations.  

Pahinui said, “We acknowledge them, and we will make sure that the “As-Builts” get updated after all of this. We will make sure that everyone works together to update all the plans. “

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