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Stink rises from canal


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POSTED: Saturday, December 26, 2009

Question: Near Hamakua Drive in Kailua, there's a horrible stench that smells like sewage. Residents say the rotting smell is the strongest they've ever experienced in their neighborhood in the vicinity of Aulima Loop and Akoakoa Street in the early morning hours. Is anything being done to investigate the cause and remedy the situation?

Answer: Many residents suspect the origin of the smell is from a lack of flow of water from Kawainui Marsh through a canal behind the residents' homes. The canal empties into Kaelepulu Stream, which empties into the ocean at Kailua Beach near Buzz's Steak House.

Kailua resident Kevin Wile said he's lived near the canal for 20 years and has never smelled such a stink as in the last several weeks.

“;My son's noticed it, too,”; Wile said.

Wile said the smell is noticeable when he drives away from his house on Aulima Loop onto Akoakoa Street at about 5 a.m. to 5:30 a.m.

“;It's really bad when there's no wind,”; said another resident, Dan Orodenker, who takes walks in the morning.

“;It's almost unbearable.”;

Don Weisman, a resident, said the smell is like rotting eggs.

“;It smells like sulfur,”; he said.

Weisman said the neighborhood was once a marsh like Waikiki, and he suspects the smell is coming from the canal and mangrove plants.

Lee Ellis, another resident, agrees.

“;It's from over there,”; said Ellis, pointing to the mangrove behind her house.

“;It comes and goes.”;

Kailua Neighborhood Board Chairman Charles Prentiss said the area has been a particular problem because of a lack of flow out to the ocean.

Residents said a dike at Kawainui Marsh was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 1960s to protect residents from annual flooding by the stream.

But they want more flow restored to avoid stagnant water.

“;There's a pollution problem,”; Prentiss said.

Prentiss said the state has released money to study ways to put the flow back into the stream from Kawainui Marsh, and the Kailua Neighborhood Board has supported the study.

“;We've been anxious to have something done there,”; Prentiss said.

“;Hopefully, something physically will come of that to improve the situation.”;

State wildlife division official David Smith said his office is in the process of selecting an engineering consultant to conduct the study.

He said the study will probably start in the first quarter of 2010.

Oceanit scientist Robert Bourke, who is familiar with the Windward wetlands area, said the lack of flow causes a number of problems, including stagnant water, odor and buildup of mud and sediment.

Bourke said the study would look at the best way to restore the flow and assess the impact of restoration.

Bourke said the Enchanted Lake subdivision had a similar problem, and the odor was eliminated by removing alien mangrove plants.

He said the city has removed some mangrove from a lower section of the canal closer to the shoreline.

Wile said he hopes the problem is solved soon, and he is trying to cope with the smell when he drives to work in the morning.

“;I go through it as quick as I can,”; he said.

Kokua Line columnist June Watanabe is on vacation. Write to “;Kokua Line”; at Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana, Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).