JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
This detail photo shows ogo removed from the ponds surrounding the Blaisdell Center, which has proliferated in all the ponds almost beyond control.
Limu taking over Blaisdell ponds
Fishponds weaving through the Neal Blaisdell Center are infested with a limu that does not go away, despite years of efforts by the city to eradicate the brownish-green stuff.
As much as 70 percent of the ponds at the events center are affected by ogo, an edible weed often used in poke, said Sidney Quintal, director of the city Department of Enterprise Services.
While algae are common at the 44-year-old ponds, especially after heavy rain, it is unclear how the ogo was introduced, he said.
City crews, who spend about $9,000 annually to clean the pond with nets every other month and test its water, have tried unsuccessfully to get rid of the limu, which began showing up six years ago.
"We'll go in and clean all of this stuff out, but one or two strains will remain and before you know it, poof. I mean, it's prolific," Quintal said.
The limu is taken by the truckload and recycled as green waste. Its growth is not yet threatening the ponds' fish, including aholehole, omilu, papio, barracuda, golden perch and tilapia, among others. Some of the species feed on the ogo, but not enough to control its spread.
The limu has stuck around even though the city pumps about 1 million gallons of water into the pond daily to flush out the water and prevent algae from developing. The water escapes through a drain, then travels across Kapiolani Boulevard and under Ward Avenue before emptying out near Kewalo Basin.
Still, the ogo can be seen in fishponds near the parking structure, by the concert hall and bordering the arena.
There have been several obstacles to fighting the limu, including difficulty scheduling more frequent cleanups between events. Quintal said a similar backup happened at the Waikiki Shell, where the city was finally able to fumigate for termites last week.
Because of the fish, city crews cannot use chemicals such as chlorine, as has been tried at the Capitol's reflecting pool. And there have been several delays in getting a group that volunteered to collect the limu in November to do the work, Quintal said.
He even suggested offering the ogo to animals at Honolulu Zoo, but a veterinarian objected to the idea because of the possible risk that the limu could spread again.
"There is no known solution to eliminate the problem, other than periodic cleaning as manpower allows," Quintal said.
He said the city hopes to find some funds in the future to improve the ponds, making them a more prominent feature. The arena is undergoing a $5.5 million renovation, but the ponds will not see a penny of that, Quintal said.
"In the meantime this stuff keeps growing."