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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, December 17, 2001

Island Voices
Those who lost jobs can help clean the Ala Wai

By W. Tsukiyama
Honolulu resident

Now is the perfect time and opportunity for the state to recruit and hire unemployed workers to clean up the Ala Wai Canal.

In 1978, the last time the state dredged the canal, Richard Lyman, trustee and chairman of the board for Bishop Estate, and I were tied up in traffic on Ala Wai.

Papa Lyman described to me how the canal was created and what can be done to keep the canal clean and maintained with little cost. His idea was to put deep sink holes at the openings along the mauka wall where mountain streams flow into the canal. The pits would then catch the debris such as fallen branches and leaves and sediment instead of flowing out into the canal.

The pits would be constructed by the state with the assistance of the U.S. Corps of Engineers. The state would be responsible for periodic maintenance of the pits, removing the debris and sediment when they are about full, particularly before the wet season.

As you walk along the mauka sidewalk of Ala Wai, beginning at the Kapahulu Avenue end, and look for the drainage channels where streams are flowing into the canal, the first you see is makai of the golf course clubhouse and the tee-off. This stream is one of the mountain streams in Palolo that flows out to sea at Kuhio Beach, 'ewa along the Kapahulu pier.

This and two other streams, 'Apaukehau and Pi'inaio, furnished a natural irrigation system for lo'i farms and rice fields and domesticated duck ponds before the Ala Wai Canal was built. The streams generally were referred to as "Wai-kolu," or "three waters." Waikiki, in earlier times, was also referred to as Waikolu. (There is a Waikiki street named Waikolu Way.)

The next channel is the Manoa-Palolo drainage canal where 'Apua-kehau from Manoa and Palolo streams flow out into the canal. Another drainage channel makai of the Marco Polo condominium where Pi'inaio stream also flows into the canal from Manoa. And east of and under the Kalakaua Avenue bridge are two channels where Makiki stream flows into the canal.

The last sink hole would be at the entrance to the Ala Wai Canal just before the canal waters converge with the salt water in the ocean. The present surface catchment basin on the makai side of the Ala Moana bridge would be maintained to catch all floating debris.

Hiring or contracting the unemployed during this depressed economy period will provide wages to the worker until he is employed again. The state benefits and the worker benefits — the same way President Franklin D. Roosevelt did during the Great Depression when out-of-job workers were recruited to do public construction projects.