Open the Wai Kai Lagoon to the Ocean
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The Wai Kai Lagoon was originally designed to be open to the ocean. Recent changes in Haseko’s original master plan now has the Wai Kai Lagoon as a fully enclosed body of water that does not communicate with the ocean. The Wai Kai Lagoon has already accumulated various forms of algae. While Haseko has done a study on water quality and the algae present in the lagoon, this study does not take into account the long-term sustainability of the lagoon. Since the lagoon was filled the amount of algae and organic components have increased drastically setting up this ecosystem for a potential toxic algae bloom in the future.
Current Conditions of the Lagoon
Residents who purchased homes in the Haseko Kipuku, Kamakana, and Kuapapa neighborhoods were promised a recreational lagoon. The description on their website reads “A deep-blue jewel that sparkles with 300 million gallons of water, it's among the largest man-made bodies of water on earth” This lagoon is far from that description as its shores are brown green and smells of algae. The water is not deep blue but a dark green and people in the community are concerned about letting their children swim in its brackish waters.
Toxic Algae Blooms
When Haseko did their 2014-2016 water control studies it was not a very realistic study because it was only for 2 years and the algae was just starting to grow. Once hotels and condominiums are constructed, landscaping will follow and vast amounts of fertilizers. As these fertilizers run into the lagoon it will further fuel algae growth in this closed system. Hawaii has the perfect conditions for a toxic algae bloom: warm weather, plenty of sun, an enclosed body of water and lastly fertilizer which will enhance the nitrates and further feed the algae.
Discover Bay Study
Discovery Bay in California is a case study to consider. Developers built a housing community around a stagnant, fresh water system and a toxic blue green algae bloom occurred threatening the health of both people and pets. It was a disaster for the community and the Contra Costa County. The culprit was run off from fertilizers used in the delta farmlands. The fertilizer run-off combined with the summer sun and warmth created the toxic algae bloom.
The EPA states on their website “Algae blooms can be toxic. Keep people and pets away from water that is green, scummy or smells bad.”
Furthermore they outline the conditions that are optimal for a toxic algae bloom, which are all the conditions we have here in Hawaii year round.
“What causes harmful algal blooms?
Harmful algae blooms need:
Nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus)”
What are the public health issues with toxic algae blooms?
According to the NIH, toxic algae blooms can cause “...vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, seizures, … as well as liver damage”
Haseko’s water control studies did not take into account the future increases in water nutrients as fertilizers are used following condo and hotel construction. Their studies were done in the absence of landscaping and fertilizer run-off. By the time this cycle happens Haseko will have sold the lagoon concept and the city, business owners, and residents will be addressing the community public health issues
Mosquito born vectors are another public health hazard surrounding the lagoon. Enclosed bodies of water can be breeding grounds for mosquitoes and can cause vector borne diseases such as Dengue Fever to propagate. This lagoons master plan is to be a major gathering place for tourists and residents. Having a mosquito breeding ground has disastrous consequences to public health and safety. Stagnant water, warm water and sun optimize mosquito breeding grounds and increase the risk of contracting mosquito borne diseases.
Open the shoreline between the Lagoon and the Ocean to create communicating channels of salt water
This is ideally what many residents would like to see happen, similar to the concept at Ko'Olina Resort. The salt water entering the lagoon will change its ecosystem and hinder the growth of algae by changing the system from a stagnant body of water to a flowing body of water. Residents were told that this would not happen due to environmental impact studies, however the public health implications of the lagoon outweigh the environmental impact. The job of the government is to keep its communities safe and public health risks to a minimum. Responsible development of safe communities is paramount for success. This petition is to request that the government reconsider opening the lagoon to the ocean and allow the natural flow of the ocean to keep this lagoon safe for our families and our community.
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