Students around the world challenged to make the Ala Wai awesome

University of Hawaiʻi
Daniel Meisenzahl, (808) 348-4936
UH Spokesman, University of Hawaiʻi System
Posted: Nov 30, -0001

The Ala Wai Canal in Waikiki is part of the 19-square-mile Ala Wai watershed.
The Ala Wai Canal in Waikiki is part of the 19-square-mile Ala Wai watershed.

An international design challenge has been launched to rehabilitate a critical O‘ahu watershed that contains one of the nation’s most polluted bodies of water.  During the September IUCN World Conservation Congress, University of Hawai‘i President David Lassner announced the Make the Ala Wai Awesome Student Design Challenge, with up to $10,000 in total prize money for the winning entries.

“We are seeking ideas from the brightest young minds around the world to help us envision an inspiring, large-scale, systems thinking approach towards comprehensive ecosystem restoration of the Ala Wai watershed,” Lassner said. “This competition should generate creative integrated approaches that address flood mitigation, ecosystem restoration and preservation, community engagement, cultural connections, public private partnerships and improvement of the visitor experience.”

The Ala Wai watershed includes the valleys and streams of Makiki, Mānoa, and Pālolo, which drain into the canal and encompass approximately 19 square miles from the mountains to the ocean. The Ala Wai is also the most densely populated watershed in Hawai‘i, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the island’s population. About 40 percent of the watershed is classified as conservation district land.  The remainder is heavily urbanized, supporting single family residences, condominiums, hotels and businesses, as well as many public and private schools, including the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, the largest university in the state.

For more on this story, go to UH News:

**Links to video and sound below (can only be viewed using a professional editing system).

Link to video of Ala Wai canal -
(1:30 video of canal and archival photos)

Link to announcement and soundbites -


David Lassner - University of Hawai'i President (12 seconds)

"I love the idea of challenging our students and really asking them to inspiring us. Not with just one solution but a set of creative ideas of what this might look like if we get it right."


Various crowd shots in auditorium during forum

IUCN signs