Saturday, December 4, 1999

Flood victims
in Waialua urge
dredging of stream

State officials say dredging
would help but still not be
a permanent solution

By Jaymes K. Song


Waialua residents are wondering why nothing has been done to alleviate flooding of Kaukonahua Stream, as promised by the state for years.

They believe dredging could have prevented millions of gallons of brown water from flowing into their yards this week and disrupting their lives. Dredging clears sediment that accumulates in streams and rivers, allowing more water to flow and lessening the chances of the water overflowing banks.

"They need to come here and dig it up," one angry woman who lives by the stream said Thursday after heavy rains caused stream waters to overflow and led to the evacuation of about 20 homes along Kaupe Road.

Department of Land and Natural Resources officials said dredging would have helped but would not have prevented homes from being flooded.

"Their homes are in a flood plain," said chief engineer Andy Monden. "Whenever there's big rain, they're prone to get flooded."

Two years ago, $500,000 was appropriated to dredge the stream.

The department has started the planning and design stages, but it still could take a while for the project to get started. It is also considering alternatives to dredging, including constructing a dam that would allow the amount of water that runs through the stream to be controlled.

The department said the flooding was caused by three factors:

Bullet Overflow at the Lake Wilson dam in Wahiawa.
Bullet Water from cane fields running into the stream.
Bullet The occurrence of high tide at the time.

State Sen. Robert Bunda (D, Wahiawa, North Shore) said the Lake Wilson dam, which was more than four feet over the normal levels, is always full because the Waialua Sugar Mill shut down and doesn't consume water any more.

Bunda said dredging is needed and that he will push for it but that it is not a permanent solution. He believes building a reservoir in the area to collect large amounts of water is the best way to alleviate the problem.

"All I can say to residents is, we understand your problem," he said. "There are a lot of hurdles, and it takes a coordinated effort. And I'll try like heck to get over the hurdles."

Residents are concerned about Oahu's next big rainfall, and some see other causes of the flooding. Andy Nakatsu, who owns a chicken farm on Kaupe Road, pointed to a nearby bridge which he said clogs up and blocks channeling water.

Whatever state officials decide to do, said Kaupe Road resident Gary Daneau as he raked mud, debris and foliage in his yard, it would be "nice" if they grabbed a rake and helped.

Bunda also shared the concerns of residents, saying that when there is heavy rainfall again, stream waters will come down "fast and furious."

"I would be just as afraid," he said.

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