Sunday, June 3, 2001

Restoring the natural course of streams like Palolo, shown
flowing into the Ala Wai, could also slow silt buildup.

Public can guide
Ala Wai restoration

By Diana Leone

Calling all Ala Wai paddlers, canal-side strollers, Waikiki business owners and Manoa or Palolo Valley residents.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are joining forces to study flood control and ecosystem restoration for the Ala Wai watershed.

And they want your help.

The two agencies are hosting a meeting at 7-8:30 p.m. June 13 at the Ala Wai School cafeteria, 530 Kamoku St.

"We hope the turnout is good," said Derek Chow, Corps of Engineers project manager. "We really want the community to be involved in this."

The $1.5 million study project is slated to take until 2004 and is entirely separate from the dredging of the Ala Wai that is planned for later this year.

The dredging will remove silt from the canal.

The watershed project hopes to improve the overall health of the 16.3 square miles of watershed that drains into the landmark canal.

An estimated 10,000 cubic yards of silt collects in the Ala Wai every year, Chow said. The streams uphill are highly "channelized" -- made into concrete chutes. Restoring the streams to more natural, meandering courses could improve the area ecosystem, even as it slows down the silt buildup in the Ala Wai.

DLNR Chief Engineer Andrew Monden said other options for improvement include:

>> Redirecting water toward the Kapahulu end of the canal, to fight stagnation.

>> Creating sedimentation detention basins along streams.

>> Using sea water to flush the canal.

"The community has already done a lot of work in this watershed, so we're looking to them to tell us what the problems are," Chow said. "Then we'll look for solutions to problems that are economically viable and environmentally acceptable."

The Ala Wai Watershed Association has plugged time and money into varied small projects to help the ahupuaa that runs from the Koolau Mountains to the reef off Waikiki.

"This is a chance for businesses, agencies and communities to come together and help chart a course for improved water quality," said Bob Morgenweck, vice chairman of the Ala Wai Watershed Association. "I'd hope everyone would take advantage of that."

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