Warning signs went up along canal, other key spots promptly after sewage spill
Your April 9 editorial
was incorrect in claiming that warning signs were not put up until "several days" after the March 24 Beachwalk force main break.
As soon as the rupture was discovered, our Environmental Monitoring Division deployed crews that posted 169 contaminated water warning signs along the Ala Wai Canal, Ala Wai Yacht Harbor and Magic Island that day. Another crew took to sea in small boats to gauge the currents and drift off the mouth of the Ala Wai Canal. They warned surfers near the harbor to get out. And still other city workers began collecting water samples from the Ala Wai Canal itself and more than a dozen spots along the Waikiki and Ala Moana shoreline. City workers notified canoe halau, yacht clubs and other canal users. They conducted continuous dawn-to-dusk patrols to warn canal and beach users. Also on that first day, we issued what would be the first of many news releases about the spill and warning the public to heed the warning signs.
An estimated 375,000 gallons of wastewater spilled from the ruptured pipe the first two days as crews worked around the clock to unearth it while pumper trucks were being used to suck up what could be collected. It wasn't until March 26, Sunday, that the full extent of damage to the 42-inch Beachwalk pipe was apparent and complete bypassing of the Beachwalk system to the Ala Wai Canal began.
The water sampling and current tests continued daily, even after the Beachwalk bypass ended on the afternoon of March 29, and the results were given daily to the state Department of Health as soon as we received them. The current and drift tests consistently indicated the Ala Wai's flow was going out to sea, rather than dispersing along the shoreline. Bear in mind that the heavy rains that fell throughout that week helped flush the canal water further offshore, but also carried all kinds of debris and bacteria into the ocean not only through the canal, but storm drain outlets and channels all over Oahu.
When water sampling showed a rise in bacteria, in some spots, the DOH asked us to post additional warning signs along other stretches of Waikiki beach in subsequent days, which we did. It was that state order that closed the beach.
Ultimately, we posted 278 warning signs as a result of the Beachwalk spill (that doesn't include replacements for signs removed by souvenir hunters or the elements). In addition, city Environmental Services personnel and Ocean Safety lifeguards warned people to avoid the waters where warning signs had been posted. The dawn-to-dusk patrols were bolstered by stationing as many as five people on Waikiki Beach to warn beachgoers.
We agree that something like this should never happen again. That is why the Hannemann administration is moving forward with plans to build a permanent replacement for the Beachwalk force main.
Ken A. Shimizu
Environmental Services Department
Lawmakers seem to lack common sense
The city and the state will spend $2 billion on airport upgrades
and intend to spend untold billions for a rail line
, but they are not capable of repairing our schools, resurfacing our potholed streets and upgrading our old sewer system.
Where is common sense among our legislators and administrators?
Cutting music courses diminishes education
The principal at Kalakaua Middle School has decided to virtually eliminate band courses for 6th- and 7th-graders from the school curriculum.
What a brilliant idea! Perhaps he wants the students to get more involved in other activities that have plagued the Kalihi area for decades such as gangs and drugs.
Most people are aware of the studies on how music enhances the development and functioning of the brain. Without an outlet for these students to express themselves through music, what will they do? Graffiti?
All students need a balanced education that focuses not only on math, science and English, but also the arts, which cultivate the human spirit and promote more caring and compassionate people.
P. Max Dubois
Poor character, not ice, is the real problem
I hear unending discussions about the evil of "ice" (crystal methamphetamine). Ice has to be ingested by humans to be harmful. The problem is people -- individuals -- who choose to ingest ice. So the problem is not ice, it is lack of personal discipline and character.
One does not walk down the street, minding his own business, only to have ice jump from a doorway and attack him. Instead, he decides to ingest it.
The "treatment" of an ice over-user is centered on how to say and do "no." That is character building, and it is difficult. Consequently, we do not have an ice epidemic. We have an epidemic of poor character. That is more personal and uncomfortable than blaming ice, but it is the unvarnished truth.
If Hawaii leads the nation in use of ice, Hawaii has more bad character than the rest of the nation. We must face the truth before we face the problem. Otherwise, our focus is off, and the problem persists while money and resources go down lots of drains.
Ice cannot be reformed, but individuals can be helped to develop into productive participants in a civil society.
Richard O. Rowland
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
East Oahu taxpayers help Kapolei, too
In response to David Wolkoff's April 11 letter
, I propose that Campbell Industrial Park be shut down. Like the Waimanalo Gulch landfill, it also emits foul odors.
As for taxes, if people in Kahala, Portlock, Waialae and Lanikai didn't pay theirs, the city-funded infrastructure for Kapolei might not even exist. Their property tax is certainly not commensurate with the city services their neighborhoods receive. One family in a $20 million beach front home in Kahala generates as much city tax revenue as 40 families in median-priced homes in Kapolei. The same amount of taxes paid, but magnificent imbalance in city services rendered and used. Who is carrying whom?
Regardless, the mass transit project is not funded with the city property tax. It is funded through the general excise tax. Rail will most likely never reach Portlock or Lanikai, or Waimanalo or Punaluu, yet the GET is omnipresent.
New airline offers consumers good deal
Of course go! cannot sustain a $39 air fare, but hasn't Scott Noltie (Letters, April 12
) heard of an introductory sale? If go! were to enter our market and match existing fares, what incentive is there to try the new airline?
Given the opportunity, I would fly go! or try the Superferry because they offer a choice as well as competition. And isn't it interesting that new competition forces Aloha and Hawaiian to be, well, competitive? What we have now is called an oligopoly and it's really no better than a monopoly.
Noltie and other status quo advocates might wish to continue to pay high fares, but don't limit the rest of us.
Don't limit candidates for adjutant general
The Legislature is about to pass House Bill 173
regarding the qualifications of the state adjutant general. The new qualification is that one must serve in the Hawaii National Guard at least five years as an active commissioned officer.
It is interesting that the current adjutant general, Bob Lee, who formerly commanded the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry, would not qualify under the proposed changes. The bill would grandfather Lee, but no other commissioned officer from the 100th/442nd would qualify to be adjutant general in the future.
In the past 38 years, the 100th/442nd Infantry Battalion was mobilized twice for combat in Vietnam and Iraq. In those two engagements 11 soldiers paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country.
We have had many great leaders come out of the 100th/442nd: Sen. Dan Inouye, the late Sen. Spark Matsunaga, Maj. Gen. Bob Lee and 1st Lt. Nainoa Hoe to name a few.
It disturbs me that men and women of the 100th/442nd Infantry can serve as part of the 29th Brigade, but will not have the opportunity to serve as the state adjutant general, who heads all units in the Hawaii National Guard.
To disqualify soldiers who may be placing their lives on the line is disturbing. Let us continue to give our future leaders the opportunity to serve.
Call your legislator or the governor to have HB173 killed or vetoed.
George M. Waialeale