Locals in Kailua claim the city is concentrating on the incorrect site for a project to clean stormwater that is bound for the ocean

Kailua Residents Say The City Is Focusing On The Wrong Location | Image Credit: civilbeat.org
Kailua Residents Say The City Is Focusing On The Wrong Location | Image Credit: civilbeat.org

Although they acknowledge the neighbors’ perspective, city authorities believe that maintaining their desired site would be difficult due to vacancies and other issues.

Brown water, which flows to the ocean several times a year, flooded through Kailua’s Kaelepulu Pond and into drainage ditches when torrential rain hit Oahu during the Kona Low in mid-May.

Currently, the City and County of Honolulu have announced plans to filter runoff that empties into Kaelepulu Pond, popularly called Enchanted Lake, with a $2 million investment.

Mid-May’s Kona Low caused lots of sediment to flow down the Keolu lined channel into Kaelepulu Pond | Image Credit: civilbeat.org

However, filtering is less necessary at the focal point than it is at another neighboring place.

Some locals find it difficult to understand as an indication of bureaucracy.

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About the city’s suggested location, Kailua resident Kevin Cooper remarked, “The water is very pure going through here.”

On the other hand, during rainstorms, brown water regularly overflows into Kaelepulu Pond from a drainage ditch around the corner.

However, Stormwater Quality Division Program Administrator Randall Wakumoto said that the city is constrained.

Wakumoto claimed that even if the locals’ suggested position at the so-called Keolu lined canal needs more filtering, maintaining it would be too much labor.

Like other city departments, the Department of Facility Maintenance is having trouble filling its positions. For example, a vacuum vehicle that removes debris from storm drains is unmanned in Kalilua; just one of the three staff jobs is occupied.

Councilwoman Esther Kiaaina stated that she intends to incorporate extra funding in a future city budget to assist address the issue. City officials have been meeting with citizens to discuss it.

Insufficient Maintenance Capability

The state health agency frequently issues brown water warnings for Kailua Bay after rainstorms.

The state issued a six-day brown water alert for the whole island following the most recent storm, a Kona Low that occurred in mid-May. The brown water advisory was then limited to Chun’s Reef, Waimea Bay, and Kailua Bay on May 22. Tuesday saw its cancellation.

The consensus among the locals is that Kailua’s stormwater needs to be filtered by the city.

Cooper stated, “All of the precipitation from Enchanted Lake found its way into Kailua Bay during this recent Kona Low.”

City’s plan is to put a rain garden of trees along the left side of road | Image Credit: civilbeat.org

There are a few storm drains that add to this flow. The Akipola lined channel, a storm drain that runs parallel to Akiohala Street, is where the city plans to place its filters.

Water would be filtered as it seeps through the soil in a row of trees that would be placed between a sidewalk and the road, according to the idea. It would require maintenance perhaps once or twice a year. Furthermore, an annual cleaning would be required for an underground filter that separates dirt from water. Other locations on Oahu might host a replication of the demonstration project.

However, other locals contend that the city’s suggested location isn’t a wise use of the funds.

According to them, the actual source of the brown water issue is the Keolu-lined creek across the street. The water running down the canal bordered by Keolu seems to be a chocolate river after rainstorms.

According to city officials, the locals have a point.

“We’re not saying it’s a horrible idea what they’re suggesting. Actually, we believe it’s a really good concept,” Wakumoto remarked. However, he stated that the city’s resources and maintenance needs are constrained.

Nine storm drain crew leaders and eighteen storm drain cleaners are funded under the mayor’s proposed budget. However, there were three crew leader openings and seven cleaning openings as of February.

It’s a major consideration as we don’t want to construct something we can’t afford to maintain. It will inevitably fail if the required maintenance isn’t done, according to Wakumoto.

The fact that more water flows into the Keolu lined channel—where the inhabitants have planned to locate—than into the Akipola lined channel is one of the issues.

“A larger drainage area necessitates a larger system, leading to increased expenses and upkeep,” Wakumoto stated.

Hugo de Vries, a resident of Kailua, disapproves of the city’s strategy.

“We won’t need to maintain it very frequently if you’re filtering and purifying pure water, right?” He stated.

According to Wakumoto, metals and pesticides may also be eliminated, making sediment simply one contaminant that has to be filtered out.

“Though it appears clear, there are actually objects in it,” he said.

Uncertainty Regarding Costs

According to De Vries, a cinder wall next to the basin that flows into the channel lined with kelu would be a better concept. According to him, debris may end up at the bottom or pressed up against the wall, preventing clear water from flowing over the top.

Wakumoto stated that because the greater drainage area would allow for more variance each year, it is impossible to forecast how much waste would gather there and how much care it would take.

With just $2 million set out for the project, Wakumoto warned that the city would further postpone the project if it went out to bid for repairs at the Keolu lined canal and then received no proposals within its budget.

He said he was unable to calculate the project’s cost at the residents’ suggested site.

Residents and officials have been gathering to examine the places and discuss potential future plans. According to Kiaaina, she believes that this would prompt the city to do a more in-depth analysis of the citizens’ preferred site and develop a design.

When the city determines the cost, she plans to add more funds to the budget in subsequent years.

To raise more funds for these sorts of initiatives, the city is also thinking about introducing a stormwater utility tax akin to its present sewage cost. Wakumoto stated that the monthly fee would probably be around $30, although the exact amount is still being determined.

Source:
https://www.civilbeat.org/2024/05/kailua-residents-say-the-city-is-focusing-on-the-wrong-location-for-a-project-to-clean-ocean-bound-stormwater/


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