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Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Friday, June 9, 2000

Stinky algae problem
hard to get rid of

Question: There is seaweed in the area of 45-052/ 45-050 Lilipuna St. in Kaneohe. When the tide is high, you can smell it from the road. As you get closer to the water, it's almost like smelling raw sewage. A few months back, we had to endure about a month of it. We tried to track down who was responsible for removing it, with no luck. We tried the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and elected officials. They all responded, but nobody seems to be able to do anything to clean up the mess. Somebody told us they can't clean it up because it's too fine to scoop up with nets. But there must be some way to get rid of it.

Answer: Addressing persistent problems of water quality and waste management in Kaneohe Bay is the responsibility of both the state Department of Health and the city Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Division, said DLNR spokeswoman Deborah Ward.

But Ward detailed the problem for us, because DLNR also is involved. The short answer is that the problem is complex and, unfortunately for those of you living around the bay, won't be resolved any time soon.

Ward said "algae blooms" are a recurring natural event in the bay and at other coastal areas of the state. Algae simply is difficult to scoop up and haul away, she said.

In fact, Ward noted, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spent more than $5 million studying the problem along West Maui, but found it difficult to identify its specific source or sources.

In Kaneohe Bay, the algae blooms probably are not the single cause of the overall odor problem, Ward said, pointing to several environmental factors as contributors, including nutrient and pollution runoff into the bay, water depth and circulation, sedimentation, breakdown of organisms and an onshore breeze.

Ward said DLNR has been funding studies of "alien algae" in the bay, concerned that it "out-competes the native algae and coral for space on the reef.

"However, we have been unable to confirm or deny that the algae that is washing ashore is alien or a combination of alien and native species," she said.

The bottom line: "Addressing the problems will take significant resources and cannot be undertaken until the causes and effects are better understood and have been at least partially identified," Ward said.

The Health Department and Hawaii Coastal Zone Management are working on a coastal management/implementation plan to mitigate runoff, but are years away from full implementation. Meanwhile, DLNR is working with the Kaneohe Bay Task Force on a master plan for the bay.

Q: Some years back, Jim Nabors did a great favor for me. I wanted to send a birthday card with a thank you, but I want it to go to him and not an agent. Where can I send it?

A: Send it to P.O. Box 10364, Honolulu 96816.

Take a break downtown

For visitors downtown, you can either look at this bit of information as being good news or bad news: There are two restroom facilities for public use. One is a 24-hour facility within the new Chinatown police station at Maunakea/Hotel streets and the other is in the Fort Street satellite city hall. The latter is usually locked, so you have to ask for a key.


To Kevin Stone, who helped me at 8:15 a.m. Tuesday, May 16, at Moanalua Shopping Center when I had car trouble. I really appreciated your help, Kevin. -- Grateful motorist

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Email to

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