March 2022 Meeting Minutes

Board of Directors Zoom Meeting Minutes
Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Conducted via Zoom:  Present:  D. Young, J. Bean, G. Colbert, M. Compton, G. Gustavson, L. Jenks, D. Medeiros, M. Novack, F. Tannen, C. Turner, and M. Spencer (Administrative Assistant).

Absent: D. Dawson, and A. Richardson

Guests:  Bob Bourke and Derek Esibill

The meeting was called to order by D. Young, President, at 7:03 pm.  A quorum was declared.

Guest: D. Esibill, the contractor ELRA has engaged to conduct water quality testing, was invited to share his observations of the water quality in the Lake.  B. Bourke, ELRA Scientific Advisor, participated in the discussions.

Esibill opened his presentation by stating he was working with Hugo DeVries to determine whether the Lake was experiencing a barracuda die-off.  Two large dead barracudas were found near the wetlands, and another was found near Director Jenks waterfront.  Esibill tested for but could not establish that oxygen-deficiency was the problem.  He asked that Directors and their neighbors be alert for any additional dead fish and that they should alert him.

Esibill posted on the Zoom-Share-Screen a series of charts showing Nutrients Data from the Dec 8-10, 2021, Water Quality Report.  This period was significant because the Lake and surrounding areas experienced an unusually high rate of rainfall.  Esibill pointed out the numbers that showed the “Salt Wedge” moving from the stream opening into the Bay towards and into the Lake, ending with the least amount of salt water found near the Wetlands.  Nutrient loads are affected by salinity in the Lake.

He believes the Wetlands are doing their job of transforming nutrients that are washing into the Lake, into biomass that serves as a source of food for the fish life.

There was extensive discussion about the continued presence of enterococci (a stable indicator of the presence of possible fecal matter in the Lake).  It was agreed that the presence of this organism is likely related to the presence of wild birds (greater presence near the Wetlands) and stormwater runoff from yards with pets and upslope properties with wildlife (such as rats and mongoose), than an indicator of human intrusions.   B. Bourke cited a 2006 USGS study looking for evidence of human waste in the Wetlands, that found none.  Esibill suggested that a sucralose sampling set may be useful in addressing human wastewater contamination.

Guest D. Esibill departed:

Minutes:  The draft Minutes for February 2022 had been circulated via email prior to the meeting.  M. Novack reviewed the status the Tasks that were produced in the Jan and Feb Meetings.

1-2 TASK:  Send USPS Letter to residents living along and near the Kaelepulu Canal, offering them the opportunity to have access to ELRA Emergency Announcements ** M. Novack

Relevant, to be completed this month.

1-3 TASK:  Board member to visit ELRA Members who are in arrears in their assessments ** G. Colbert.  Relevant, to be completed this month.

2-1 TASK:  Contact local mountain and motor bike clubs to seek cooperation concerning trails.  Consider writing letter to private owner making them aware of the impact of the trails on down slope homes and Lake. ** Relevant, to be addressed in the future.

2-2 TASK:  Include vacant position information in upcoming newsletter. ** M. Novack and C. Turner. ** COMPLETE

2-3 TASK:  Write letter to Canoe Clubs reminding them of Lake rules** D. Young**COMPLETE

NOTE:  Email determined that the paddlers did not belong to any of the Canoe Clubs.  Those who lent canoes to a HS, have reminded the paddlers of Lake rules.

2-4 TASK: Invite Derek Esibill to speak to the Board at the March Meeting** D. Young ** COMPLETE

2-5 TASK:  Write a letter requesting the grass cut along canals by C&C be collected after it is cut to prevent it from being washed into the Lake** D. Young

NOTE: It was agreed to delay writing the letter until photos can be provided

Following a brief discussion, G. Gustavson moved approval and J. Bean seconded the motion that the Minutes be approved.  D. Medeiros abstained since he was not present at the meeting.  The remaining members approved the Minutes unanimously.

Finance: G. Gustavson reported that there are no significant changes in the ELRA finances in February 2022. Both receipts and expenses are tracking our budget pretty closely.

In January, we received a check from Title Guarantee Escrow Services for the funds held in escrow from our settlement, less fees and including interest. With this payment we have now received all of the funds provided in the settlement.

G. Gustavson expressed his thanks to Alan Richardson and Adam Bookatz for their continued support of the ELRA finances.

F. Tannen moved acceptance and C. Turner seconded the motion that the Finance Report be accepted, subject to audit. By show of hands, the Report was unanimously accepted.


Communications Log: D. Young had shared his log prior to the Meeting.  He highlighted the continuing and positive communications with local elected officials, such as Esther Kia‘aina, City Council District 3 and Lisa Martin, State House District 51.

Report from the Kailua Neighborhood Board (KNB): L. Jenks reported that the meeting was called to order by Chairman Bill Hicks.  The following items are of interest to or have direct bearing on ELRA and its activities.

There was concern voiced over the recent sewage spills from the base, and about the delay in reporting these events. Danny Hays said that news releases were distributed at the time of the spills and when they had resolved. The information is also apparently available on their website. Gary Weller advised that the information should be displayed on electronic signs posted on roadways, encouraging DOH and MCBH to be more proactive regarding letting the public know when events have occurred. Donna Wong requested that MCBH give presentations to KNB regarding the sewage treatment plants, their spills, and how these are handled.

Catie Cullison from PBR, a Honolulu consulting firm, gave a brief notice that the environmental impact statement for renovating the hike to the Pill Box will be open for review from March 8th until April 7th. There were concerns that this interval would not allow another KNB meeting to discuss the findings and to potentially make any recommendations regarding their findings and recommendations. Ms. Cullison said that there would be recognition of feedback regarding their proposals and asked that she be contacted if comments were after the open period for comments.

The Kaʻiwa Ridge Improvements and Management Plan, Draft Environmental Assessment document (AKA The Pillbox Hike) is available online. It’s a very lengthy document (nearly 1000 pages).

Current Bills:  Bill # 47, establishes City Park Rangers to enforce laws.

Regarding Kaelepulu Stream, Kathy Thurston inquired to the procedure of opening the berm to prevent flooding before heavy rain events. Kalama-Kingman raised concerns about trees that are in the berm and sticking out of the sand. Resident Moeng raised concerns with the debris carried out of streams, into the bay, and deposited on the beach.

Council member Esther Kia’aina noted a recent site visit and meeting with Donna Tomasa and Don Young regarding issues surrounding the opening of the berm where the canal enters the ocean. She will give a report on that meeting at the next KNB meeting. It was noted that the delay in opening the berm on Jan. 1st, 2022, was affected by the recent retirement of a contact within DFM who had a good working relationship with the community. The goal is to look at monthly openings of the berm, focus on the application with Army Corps of Engineers, and foremost to address safety issues for the public.

A legal agreement from 1963 was noted that shows City & County’s responsibility for maintaining the waterway, specifically saying that the City & County of Honolulu will maintain and repair, including necessary dredging and keep open all inlets to Kaelepulu Pond and the outlet from said pond.

Chairman Hicks asked Committee Chairs Claudine Tomasa (Public Safety, Public Health, and Civil Defense) and Levani Lipton (Pollution of Kailua Waterways and Beaches) to add opening the berm and the application to Army Corps to their respective committee agendas.

It was noted in Chairman Bill Hick’s report that KNB had unanimously passed a resolution in the February meetings that stated “It is recognized that the Kaelepulu Berm must be opened as needed to prevent flooding when heavy rainfall is predicted by the National Weather Service. On January 1, 2022, the berm was opened by the City and County of Honolulu after residents first started to open it and then C & C finished the job, however it was opened so wide that hazardous conditions developed including excessive current and the movement of adjacent ironwood trees. the Kailua Neighborhood Board requests that C&C inform the KNB of its policy of how the berm opening should be excavated and when this should be done. If no policy currently exists, request that one be created and shared so that the bulldozer operator knows how and when to open it to prevent hazards to the public.” (Public Safety, Public Health, and Civil Defense Committee motion). Tomasa: introduced motion.

It was also noted that a key issue to control the level of pollution in the waterway will be maintaining storm drains and regular street sweeping. The question is what harms the bay more, a regular controlled monthly opening or a big dump that comes with storms and flooding?

DFM posted that they currently have a protocol, that they can only open the berm/ stream mouth under emergency conditions, as determined by the Department of Emergency Management (DEM). They posted that when advised of approaching storms by DEM, the DFM crew checks the stream gage at Kawailoa Road bridge and documents the rising condition of the stream and condition of the sand berm so that DEM can determine the need for emergency stream mouth opening. After receiving authorization from the DEM and as time is available, DFM crews deploy a turbidity barrier at the Kawailoa Road bridge to capture debris floating downstream and install warning signs on both sides of Kaelepulu stream. Floatable debris is manually removed from Kaelepulu Stream downstream of Kawailoa Road to the extent possible. Heavy equipment is utilized to cut a narrow channel in the center of the accumulated sand plug. This opening to Kailua Bay releases the impounded stream water to mitigate flooding of upstream low-lying properties. The turbidity barrier remains until the next day while the warning signs remain on site for a couple of days before removal.

Normally Department of Parks and Recreations (DPR) crews assigned to the beach park assist with removal of debris deposited on the beach areas, although DFM assisted with removing the root ball of the ironwoods and DPR is continuing to work on the remaining ironwood trees along the stream area where erosion occurred.

Meeting with Elected Officials and City and County WRT Berm Opening: D. Young reported on the Feb 28, 2022 meeting, called by Esther Kia‘aina, City Council District 3 

The following participants were present:

  • Esther Kia’aina, City Council District 3
  • Dawn Szewczyk, Director, Dept of Facilities Maintenance (DFM), C&C
  • Tyler Sugihara, Chief, Division of Road Maintenance (DFM)
  • Bill Hicks, Chairman, Kailua Neighborhood Board (KNB)
  • Claudine Tomasa, Public Safety, Public Health, Civil Defense Committee (KNB)
  • Jaren Macartney, Legislative Aide
  • Jimmy (Engineer in charge of berm opening)
  • Don Young, President, ELRA

 The meeting lasted just 30 minutes, but D. Young was able to get across all the points of importance to ELRA and the Lake community: lack of communication, impact on homeowners, beach erosion, toppled trees, safety concerns.

Discussion focused on the need for regular (monthly) openings of the Berm. The current permit from the Army Corps of Engineers (COE) allows City and County (C&C) to open only in emergencies when their water gauges reach a critical level (~3 ft) and they have to then request permission to do so. They are not allowed to open in advance of a coming storm.

Kia‘aina asked about the necessary permit to allow regular openings. B. Hicks pointed out that regular openings had occurred in the past, reducing the debris build up and the impact on beach erosion, instead of all being dumped in one big flood event. (Something ELRA has been proposing for years.).

Kia‘aina asked why the permit application had not been submitted and Sugihara’s response was they were working on it. C&C did not apply for Kaelepulu Stream with the other stream applications because of complaints from the beach goers.

Kia‘aina was incredulous that one person could jeopardize the health and safety of an entire community. She pledged to follow up to find out what rule would allow such a thing to occur. She plans to talk with the COE, our Legislative delegation, and City Council to get the issue addressed. Support from KNB was welcome.

Hicks followed up the discussion on permits by referencing the 1963 Drainage Agreement with C&C and asking why the C&C was not honoring the Agreement.

Hicks sent the KNB Resolution regarding the opening of the Berm directly to D. Szewczyk with copy to E. Kia‘aina and D. Young. Young responded by thanking him and attached for his information the full text of the 1963 Agreement.

Young’s report was followed by lengthy discussion about the location and accuracy of the C&C water gauges. The C&C gauge is reported to be attached to one of the piers of the Kawailoa Bridge leading to Lanikai.

Bourke pointed to the following from pg. 17 his 2017 report: “The City’s gauge elevations are tied to the City’s mean sea level (MSL) survey base which was established at the Honolulu Harbor and is 0.26 feet higher than our local mean lower low water (LMLLW). Our LMLLW gauge reads 0.26 feet when the City’s MSL gauge reads 0.0.” [1]

Bourke asserted that for every inch of rain, the Lake will rise 4-6 inches.

Finally, the topic of letter writing in support of the Berm opening (or any other issue) was addressed.  This has been a frequent topic for the Board.  When, to whom, how often has not yet been defined.  It was agreed that hard-copy letters elicit a better response than email letters do.

Filling Vacant Positions: M. Novack reported that two individuals responded to the latest newsletter’s request for new Board Members.  One individual responded, indicating how busy she already was.  Novack thanked her and suggested that perhaps she could volunteer with one of the existing committees, such as the Environment Committee, rather than commit to service on the Board at this time.

The second individual, Connie Jewell, provided a substantive resume and indicated an enthusiasm for the Lake.  The Board, having previously seen the resume agreed that C. Jewell would be a good addition to their membership.

A Motion was made by G. Gustavson to appoint Connie Jewell to the ELRA Board of Directors for a period ending with the Annual Meeting, at which time she would be eligible to run for a full term of three years.  This Motion was seconded by G. Colbert.  The Board approved the motion unanimously.

Committee Reports:

Dredging Committee: G. Colbert reported that he and D. Young had participated in a Zoom Meeting on 8 Mar 2022 with several individuals concerning the use of the Hawaii Youth Corrections Facility (HYCF) land on Olomana.

The participants were:

  • Mark Patterson, HYCF, Head of Operations
  • Darrell Bueno, HYCF, Head of Facilities
  • Don Young, President ELRA
  • Greg Colbert, ELRA Dredging Committee
  • Jordan Moniuszko, Oceanit
  • Taylor Chock, Oceanit

The most recent question relates to the “composition” of the nutrient rich soil.  Does the soil contain any contaminants relating to previous uses of the surrounding area, such as the sugar cane industry?  Taylor Chock provided a persuasive description of the various testing protocols that had been applied to the core samples taken from the proposed dredge site.   It appears that Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) has more stringent guidelines that the EPA or COE.

A follow-on meeting will take place on 9 March 2022, hopefully to answer this question.

Turner said that she had spread the soil from the Wetlands dredging around her lawn. She was requested to send copies of photographs to D. Young, showing the health of the lawn.

Environment Committee:  L. Jenks reported that the Storm Drain Marking project is going well.  She and G. Colbert marked several drains in the last week.

Young reported that Board member Alumnus D. Kroll has continued to update the environmental matrix that he had originated when he was on the Board.

Membership Committee: There was no report from the Membership Committee.

Operations Committee: There was no report from the Operations Committee.

Next Meeting Date:  The next Board meeting will take place by Zoom on Tuesday, April 12, 2022, at 7pm.  The next KNB meeting will be April 7, 2022.  G. Colbert is scheduled to attend.

Adjournment:  The meeting adjourned at 8:55 pm.

              Respectfully submitted M. Novack


Tasks from previous months still needing to be completed.


1-2 TASK:  Send USPS Letter to residents living along and near the Kaelepulu Canal, offering them the opportunity to have access to ELRA Emergency Announcements ** M. Novack

Relevant, to be completed this month.

1-3 TASK:  Board member to visit ELRA Members who are in arrears in their assessments ** G. Colbert.  Relevant, to be completed this month.

2-1 TASK:  Contact local mountain and motor bike clubs to seek cooperation concerning trails.  Consider writing letter to private owner making them aware of the impact of the trails on down slope homes and Lake. ** Relevant, to be addressed in the future.

2-5 TASK:  Write a letter requesting the grass cut along canals by C&C be collected after it is cut to prevent it from being washed into the Lake** D. Young

NOTE: It was agreed to delay writing the letter until photos can be provide

[1] (Bourke, 2017)