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Make Water Quality a High Priority to Protect Kaelepulu Watershed

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            Kaelepulu watershed including Kaelepulu Pond (Enchanted Lake), Kaelepulu Stream, Kailua Beach Park, Lanikai Beach and Kailua boat ramp is at risk of further pollution if the State of Hawaii Department of Health lowers pollution standards.  We are asking the Department of Health to restore the water quality pollution classification for Kaelepulu Pond to high priority.

          We are concerned with the Department of Health’s recent proposal to downgrade the priority of the Kaelepulu watershed from "High" to "Medium" as described in the 2016 Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report. Water quality studies represent a crucial component in establishing the measurement known as total maximum daily load (TMDL) of pollutants allowed to enter our waterways. Regular data collection is critically important to setting pollutant load reduction goals for polluters. Downgrading the classification status poses a significant risk to our watershed.

            As a coastal community who interfaces with these bodies of water on a daily basis we are aware that pollutants exist. We don’t want further compromising of our water system and feel strongly that water quality studies need to continue.

            Kaelepulu Pond, the associated Kaelepulu Stream and Kawainui Stream are valuable waterways in our windward Oahu watershed and are part of a larger wetland environment that supports endangered species and serves as hatcheries for juvenile fish. Lowering the priority for measurement standards has serious implications for both the upper and lower part of the ecosystem including Kailua Bay. Downgrading the classification status will represent a missed opportunity for us to increase the health of our watershed.

            Resulting impacts on the ecosystem and watershed are far-reaching and will be devastating. It will adversely impact the health status of wildlife as well as health outcomes for residents who use the pond, streams, and ocean. Boaters, paddlers and residents have complained for years of the severe stench resulting from stagnant water in Kaelepulu Pond. Restoring the health of this ecosystem needs to remain a high priority.

            We are aware that the City storm drain system is a major contributing factor to diminishing water quality.  Nonpoint source pollutants (fertilizers, animal waste, trash and plastics, silt, and road debris) enter the streams and pond through the City storm drain system. Without a completed TMDL, the City and County of Honolulu will not need to meet pollution reduction goals and will have little incentive to make necessary improvements to keep these pollutants out of our waterways. This is harmful to the public’s health.

            Kaelepulu has been listed a high priority on the EPA watch list. The DOH conducted a series of studies for the TMDL between 2003 and 2011, but has never completed the report. The City has also conducted additional studies including a pollution runoff model of the watershed.  It does not make sense to downgrade the priority of the watershed and not complete the TMDL study. This information is critical for monitoring the health of the ecosystem.

            The community cares deeply about our watershed and our interaction with these bodies of water. As a matter of public health and safety, we strongly request the Department of Health to make Kaelepulu Pond a high priority as listed under the TMDL classification and to complete the required testing that would result in keeping our community safe, our water clean, and our watershed protected. Thank you for your consideration.

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