Looks like Lingle has seen the light
The recent release of more than $4 million by Gov. Lingle to fund improvement projects for the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor seems to be a pretty good indication her administration has finally seen what resident and visiting boaters have known all along: Something had to be done besides studies and talk.
The Ala Wai is, after all, the largest recreational boat harbor in the state and the home to more than 800 boats, two yacht clubs, a fuel dock and a boat yard. It also produces the lion's share of revenue for the Boating Special Fund and is located adjacent to the world-famous Waikiki Beach.
Nevertheless, through an unrelenting process of deferred maintenance, the state compounded its aging and allowed this major boating facility to decay and disintegrate over the years to a point that it became boating's poster child for the world's worst marina management practices.
Now, at least at first glance, things seem to be looking up. The new, 70-slip F Dock is rapidly filling with boats, and if all goes as planned, this latest $4 million windfall will finance not only the replacement of the combined 172-slip B, C, and D docks, but will fund the planning stages of other new dock facilities as well.
There does seem to be one area of concern though. Along with the dock improvements and planning, there is $200,000 earmarked for designing harbor infrastructure improvements such as water, sewer and electrical utility upgrades. But that may not be nearly enough to cover the actual cost of one impending project.
I have been told that state engineers have recently been assessing the condition of the sewage transfer pump that has been servicing the Ala Wai Harbor for years and that it's likely it will be replaced -- and soon.
Of course replacing a sewage transfer pump doesn't sound like much, and it certainly hasn't the visual appeal of a new dock system, still without that pump operating properly, things could get mighty foul around the harbor.
And it should be remembered that the use of all fresh water would need to be curtailed until that pump was back in operation, which would have a profound effect on the Hawaii Yacht Club, as well as any boaters who use the shore-side showers and restrooms.
It was just two years ago, after a sewer main ruptured in Waikiki, that the city pumped some 48 million gallons of raw sewage into the Ala Wai Canal, which then flowed throughout the boat harbor on its way to the sea.
Understandably, the boat owners, and particularly the live-aboards in the harbor, haven't forgotten the visual and aromatic degradation produced by that intrusion of sewage. So just the hint of a rumor that there is something wrong with the harbor's one and only sewage pump is sure to immediately catch those boaters' attention.
We can only hope that some creative minds in the Department of Land and Natural Resources are working overtime on the problem and will quickly find a way to resolve it.