Water: for Life or… Not?

One of the things that Hawaii takes pride in is its clean water. There’s no chlorine in our water! Our Board of Water Supply has on its billing envelopes the phrase, “Ka Wai Ola” which means Water for Life. We’ll just sneak this in as a vocabulary word for the day. What a wonderful and appropriate phrase.

Surf off of Barbers Point Lighthouse

This is a story I have avoided for a long time. As angry as it has made me over the last year or so, I didn’t want to talk about it, didn’t want to remind the rest of the world of the heinous error made by the City and County of Honolulu. All over the world this story made the headlines!

Back on March 23rd of 2006, we had a huge volume of rain that just kept coming down for weeks. The force main sewer line in Waikiki could finally take no more and it ruptured. So, what did they do? Let’s just dump the sewage into the Ala Wai canal where the kids paddle canoes and the water leads out to the ocean along Waikiki Beach. No problem.

Talk about shock — “They did what?!?” Could we not have called in every sewage company and every available truck to pump it out and carry it to the sewage plants? Maybe it was just cheaper to destroy the ecological balance and make our environment toxic. Is that it? Forty-eight million gallons of raw sewage?!? WHY?!?

It was an emergency? Is that what you’ll say? Duh! Call the sewage, pumping and plumbing companies. You think they wouldn’t run to the scene to help? First of all, at times of emergency we always pull together. They would have been more than happy to help. Secondly, do you think they would pass up a job with guaranteed pay? Again I say, “Duh!” If the mayor had just sent out an urgent bulletin, people would have kicked their spouses out of bed to get down there! Come on, man!

Tourism is impacted by this kind of stupidity. That’s our lifeline, our survival! What is wrong with you?!? Then you have the audacity to insist we pay more taxes to pay for a rail transit system? I would much rather pay more taxes to cover an upgrade to the sewer systems before you dorks pollute our environment again.

Okay, all this is doing is making me angry all over again. Breathe.

Canoe paddlers on the Ala Wai Canal

So, after a year, where are we now? After several months, the canoe paddlers are returning to the Ala Wai, the Board of Health, or some such organization, says the bacteria levels of the beach water has returned to normal, people are swimming again. Some people. I was asked a few weeks ago if I’ve been going to the beach. Uh, not since March of last year. The closest I came was the very welcome ocean water pictured above by the Barbers Point lighthouse. That’s half way around the island from Waikiki. Even then it was just my feet.

Sewer line on the sidewalk along the Ala Wai

They’ve put in a new line underground but… are they going to leave that sewer line Super Chicken!on the sidewalk adjacent to Waikiki?

Look, Mayor Hannemann, you knew the job was dangerous when you took it and, I’m sorry, but part of that job is to accept the liability and take ownership of the mistakes made by the office you govern. Hello?!? I don’t know a lot about politics; in fact, I’m a bit of an idiot myself when it comes to the subject. But I DO know who is responsible for my City’s governance. Get off your little blamethon, stop trying to redirect people’s attention elsewhere and fix the *%&$ing problem!

Sewer line along the opposite side of the Ala Wai

Super Chicken train wreckGet your priorities straight, fix the Ala Wai, and get that damn piece of sewage paraphernalia off the sidewalk! Then, and only then, talk to me about rail transit systems, and re-election. Right now your term of service is nothing more to me than a train wreck and, to be honest, I just don’t like the way it looks.

Am I the only one feeling like this? Hell no! Others have taken the City to court to demand action. Play the video and see for yourself. The site of that dumping makes me want to puke. Yeah, the crabs got bigger in the Ala Wai, but, I’m not eating ’em!

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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 David Panther // Apr 20, 2007 at 4:40 am

    Your story about the waste pipeline burst is typical of the attitude the whole world over as we humans think that we can just dump rubbish anywhere and continue to mine and drill leaving all kinds of run off and residue destroying our home. Every generation past has left us with a legacy and debt that can not be paid. Our planet is running out of time and all we do is close our eyes and hope the problems will go away.

  • 2 Walt // Apr 20, 2007 at 5:11 am

    Wow, that’s really scary and amazingly short sighted. I know many pacific islands have difficulty with waste because of the limited amount of real estate they have. Even though this is not the main focus of the book, if you read Blue Latitudes by Tony Horowitz he discusses similar problems balancing sewage, tourism, and the environment in Tahiti (lots of interesting stuff on Hawaii too!).

  • 3 Evelyn // Apr 20, 2007 at 6:28 am

    David, thank you! This is exactly my point. Walt, thank you for a perfect summation: “amazingly short sighted” — I thought so too. I’m glad you guys see what I mean. It’s just amazing. Walt, about that book… the Maritime Museum talks about the correlation between Hawaii and Tahiti too. Interesting. I’m working on that one. 😉

  • 4 City & County Department Protects Our Home // Apr 2, 2009 at 6:38 am

    […] Remember the Ala Wai?  Something like that. I was not happy and I know a lot of others were even worse.  Was there really an alternative?  Probably not.  The Public Communications Officer over at the Department of Environmental Services pointed that out to me and, while I’ve finally resigned myself to accepting the fact that there were few of no other options, I’m still not happy about it.  Let’s set up a way to avoid having the same thing happen again! […]

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