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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, February 8, 2003

Lingle places priority on lake

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Staff Writer

Gov. Linda Lingle stopped short of declaring a salvinia emergency yesterday, instead making the fight against the noxious weed a state priority and directing the head of the Department of Land and Natural Resources to enlist the help of other agencies to save Lake Wilson.

Under Lingle's directive, the DLNR will get no extra money for the fight against Salvinia molesta, the aggressive plant that is choking Wahiawa's Lake Wilson and threatens to kill 500 tons of fish there if it isn't dealt with by summer, according to DLNR Director Peter Young.

Young said he has the cooperation of state, city and federal agencies in removing the weed that covers 95 percent of Lake Wilson and will seek $150,000 in federal money to help in the fight.

He also said he hopes the cooperating agencies will absorb their costs.

Young said he would use lessons learned at Lake Wilson to eliminate the weed from Kawainui Marsh and Ka'elepulu Pond in Kailua.

The weed also has been reported at Ho'omaluhia park in Kane'ohe and Waiakea pond in Hilo, Hawai'i.

The weed growth has exploded at Lake Wilson since November when it covered 30 percent of the reservoir. State officials consider the situation a potential health emergency that must be resolved before the hot summer months add to the problem, leading to oxygen depletion in the water and a massive fish kill.

Residents and state, city and federal officials meeting in a salvinia strategy session on Thursday emerged with a call for an emergency declaration as their chief tool in the fight against the weed.

Sen. Robert Bunda, D-22nd (North Shore, Wahiawa) said he met yesterday with Lingle, Young, state Rep. Marcus Oshiro and City Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz to discuss the issue. But Lingle said she wasn't sure Lake Wilson would qualify as an emergency, Bunda said.

"She did provide the authority to move the project of physical removal as quickly as possible," he said.

Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com or 234-5266.