September 2012 Newsletter

ELRA e-newsletter
Issue 5
September 2012
Photo of Enchanted Lake

Possible Berm Opening September 19

The city says they have applied for a permit to open the berm to the ocean on Wednesday, September 19th. Rumored also is that the city has acquired an additional front loader for the windward side which will make it easier for them to perform monthly openings. A good exchange with the ocean will make a big difference in the health of the lake.

So what’s up with getting Delta to clean up the lake?

By Bob Bourke


During the past decade we’ve worked together to rid our lake of mangrove, fostered habitat for endangered waterfowl in our wetland areas, and worked with both the City and the State Department of Health to control the flow of pollutants into our lake and improve water quality.

This hard work and regular clean-up efforts has been rewarded by increased fish in the lake and decreased odors coming out of the lake.  We even got the Kailua Canoe Club to work with us to remove mangrove and trash from the channel all the way down to the ocean!  So it is very disheartening when developers come into our community, cause pollution that fouls our lake, and then believe it’s okay to just walk away.

As most of you are aware, during the 2010-2011 the Lake experienced significant pollutant loads in runoff coming from a series of home lots being constructed on the hills above Kaelepulu School.  These events were documented by members of the association and attempts were made to work with the contractor to control the polluted runoff from the site.  When these efforts were rebuffed, we contacted both the City (they issue the NPDES permit) and to the Department of Health.

Last summer (2011) the lake experienced extremely robust algae growth, we believe due to the nutrients from the construction site runoff, and the ELRA hired a labor crew from Pono Pacific who removed in excess of 100 tons of algae.

ELRA engaged an attorney and we both held meetings with and underwent official mediation with the contractor and landowner in an unsuccessful attempt to resolve issues.

The DOH also investigated the runoff after we sent them a letter in January 2011.  After we sent them a second letter in August 2011, the DOH sent Delta Construction and the landowner a Notice and Finding of Violation on April 2, 2012.   To join with the DOH our attorney filed a motion to intervene in the DOH action on August 2.

However on August 8, the DOH signed a settlement agreement with the contractor and landowner in which they agreed to pay a fine of just over $21 thousand dollars without admitting to the violations alleged in the NFVO.  The DOH did not require Delta to remove the sediments and nutrients from our lake.  On September 7, our attorney filed a memorandum in support of ELRA’s motion to intervene in the case, and filed a separate motion to set aside the settlement agreement and hold a hearing on the penalties. A decision by the Hearing Officer on ELRA’s two motions is pending.However, the ELRA board is considering filing a complaint directly against the landowner and contractor to recover our costs and to get the pollutants be removed from the lake.

I’m asking your patience and trust in this matter.  An executive committee consisting of myself, our 2nd vice president Cindy Turner, and our president Sue Alden, is working closely with our attorney. I’d like to ask each one of you who has been forced to expend extra hours cleaning up the algae or dead fish in front of your homes to take a few minutes and document these efforts in writing and send me a copy.  We need to stand together as a strong community and not allow others to pollute our lake without consequences.


Kukilakila island after dredging   

Kukilakila “Bird Island” Debris Removal

The canal surrounding the Kukilakila Bird Island had become clogged over the years with debris accumulating at the narrow corner between the island and the rock seawall.  With the increased algae during the past couple of years, the build up increased to the point where there was almost a land bridge to the island.  The algae was so thick in this area that recently a Hawaiian Stilt became trapped and had to be rescued.

ELRA and Kukilakila split the expense to hire a contractor to remove the accumulated debris using a small back-hoe. Two truckloads of silt and vegetation were removed as well as, much to everyone’s surprise, about two cubic yards of large rocks.  Bill Kinney, Kukilakila’s manager, says he’s going to use the rocks to build a small retaining wall for a picnic table under an adjacent tree.  Now residents will have a place to sit and enjoy watching the birds on the island.



The lake health is not-so-good

As a result of the successful lake mouth opening last June, the elevation of the lake rose to about 1.7 feet, but has fallen steadily due to daily evaporation (about two inches per week) and a lack of significant rainfall.   As of this September 13, the elevation of the lake surface is down to about 0.8-foot, which is below mean sea level and almost a foot below where we’d prefer it to be maintained.

Our familiar brown Gracilaria algae has been overgrown in many areas by a long filamentous green algae known as Cladophora.  We believe that the overabundance of these algae clogging our lake is a direct result of the sediments and nutrients poured into the lake during the previous winter by the contractor grading lots above Kaelepulu School.

With the low water levels and abundant algae, the lake is primed for a fish kill event.  If we experience a number of low wind days coupled with overcast skies (such as a Kona Storm), it is likely that daily oxygen production will not be high, and that during the night the algae and fish will draw down the available oxygen to below levels that can sustain fish or invertebrate life.  One of the first signs of a low-dissolved oxygen event will be observations of Samoan crabs crawling up out of the water during early morning.

We may need to do a rain-dance if the city does not open the berm soon!

The Enchanted Lake Residents Association (ELRA) is a non-profit organization that holds title to and manages a 79.471 acre portion of Kaelepulu Pond, also known as Enchanted Lake.

The board of the ELRA has taken a pro-active role in the management of the pond, with the ultimate goal of restoring Kaelepulu to support diverse fisheries resources and recreational activities in clean water.


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In this Issue

Delta Action
Lake Health
Annual Meeting
Coming Up




Quick Links

Lake History


Lake Watch Phone



Annual Meeting set for Oct. 27


The ELRA annual meeting will be held at the Midpac Country Club on October 27.

Delicious pupus and a buffet dinner will be served.

Gary Gill, Chair of the State Department of Health, will be our guest speaker.

Board members will update you on lake developments, maintenance fees, and there will be elections of new board members.

Four board seats are open this year. Three current board members will be running for reelection. If you are interested in running, please contact Sue Alden for more information.

Meeting information and forms will be mailed soon.