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Rain and Sewage Cause Havoc in Hawai'i - the real story

by the Social Diary Hawai'i & Water Sports Columnist Sonja Evensen
Column #2, April 12th, 2006

We had 46 days of rain, flooding, and perhaps you heard about the deaths associated with the dam that broke on Kauai. The sewage backed up beyond capacity and they didn't know what else to do but let it out; into the Ala Wai; into the ocean; and all hell broke loose. The news is full of bad news. Oliver Johnson died after he somehow fell into the Ala Wai and contracted a flesh-eating disease. One surfer girl didn't see signs posted and surfed near where the sewage went out...she got hurt and when you have open wounds, it's easy to get infections....so now the City is worried about lawsuits; but even more; we who live here wonder about the after-effects of this awful event. Almost all the beaches have been cited by the Health Department as having bacteria counts off the Richter scale. First it was town; and Diamond Head was spared, but a sewage spill in Wailupe got to it. A couple of my friends have windsurfed there lately but I'm still not going to chance it---at least not for surf smaller than 4 feet.

(pictured here - Sonja kitesurfing in clean waters before the spills and rain)

I have gone out at Sandy Beach and I have not heard any complaints about that....but it has gotten more crowded there.
If it isn't the sewage, the runoff is making murky water and the North shore guys are seeing more sharks. I saw dead birds, fish and slow moving crabs on Kailua beach the other day-- even though some kiters (not many) ventured out. Not too smart, methinks; as kiting pretty much guarantees that water will get shoved into every crevice!

This is all very depressing. I am just concentrating on my work and hoping that mother nature will eventually clean itself up (and meanwhile I hope the city planners can learn to think more pro-actively about the carrying capacity of our little island environment.

* Sonja Evensen is an ex-pro windsurfer who moved to Hawai'i from Norway over 25 years ago. She competed professionally for a little more than a decade. Currently she divides her time between windsurfing, surfing, and kitesurfing, not necessarily in that order. Besides her love of the water sports lifestyle, Sonja works as a program evaluation specialist for Pacific Resources for Education and Learning ( www.prel.org ), a job that takes her traveling throughout Micronesia and good surf spots.

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