Kualoa park fix promised
By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer
KUALOA — A decade after the city first announced it would replace the wastewater system at Kualoa Regional Park, the work has not happened and officials are paying more than $45,000 a year to have a private company pump sewage from holding tanks and truck it away.
A new wastewater plan has emerged in the wake of a $300,000 settlement over discharges there, but it's going to be at least another year before it can be implemented.
Last week, the state Department of Health announced an agreement with the city over alleged wastewater discharges in 2005 and 2007 from restrooms at the beach park.
The settlement requires that the city seek approvals to replace its wastewater system at the Windward park, a requirement it was supposed to have met in 2000 over similar violations.
Now after 10 years and two plans that were scrapped because of community opposition, the city said it has designed a centralized wastewater system and is prepared to try again.
Next, the city will consult with the State Historic Preservation Division and the O'ahu Island Burial Council, said city spokes-man Bill Brennan in an e-mail.
The council received the plan Dec. 9, he said.
Wastewater projects at Kualoa Beach Park have faced community scrutiny since at least the 1990s, in part because of concern for old Hawaiian burials in the area.
The Kualoa area is believed to have been a training site for Hawaiian warriors and is considered sacred ground by some.
The Hawaiian community is concerned for the site and also wants the beaches and bay to be healthy for Hawai'i residents and visitors, said Mahealani Cypher, president of the Ko'olaupoko Hawaiian Civic Club. Any digging there would be a great concern, Cypher said.
"Kualoa is very sacred to us and we really want it to be pono as much as possible," she said. "Whatever is done, we want to work with the city, the community and the health department to see what can be done and to support them whatever way possible."
ALREADY IN BUDGET
Brennan said $4.9 million has been allocated for the project in the 2011-12 budget and construction won't begin until all approvals are in.
"Under the agreement after consultations with SHPD/OIBC are complete the city has 34 months to revise the environmental assessment and obtain a shoreline management area permit for the project, as well as update the archeological survey, complete the design, hold community meetings and award a construction contract," Brennan wrote.
The restrooms and wastewater system at the beach park have not worked properly for decades.
Although money has been allocated to fix the problem since 1998, plans in 2000 and 2002 were rejected because they required digging into burial grounds.
Money was again provided in 2003 and 2006 but no plan was offered. In March 2007, the city said it would have a plan by year's end but nothing materialized.
The wastewater system has been shut down since 2006 and the city pumps sewage from holding tanks about three times a week at a cost of about $882 a week or $45,864 a year, Brennan said.
Beach users at Kualoa on Friday said they are not concerned about the system and find the restrooms clean if a little worn.
"They kind of bus' up but we don't mind," said Wayne Aquino, 24, of Käne'ohe. "We camping anyway. You can't expect the nicest things like you're at home. That's why people go camping, rough it a little bit."