Heavy rains wash unidentified sediment into Kohala waters


Heavy rains this week brought some sort of wood sediment down to the Kohala Coast, Puako residents say.

George Fry first noticed the material, in the form of brown swatches floating along the coast, as he flew back to Hawaii Island from the mainland Tuesday. Fry said several longtime Hawaii residents speculated the material could have come down from an old koa mill in Kohala, traveling down a gulch to the coast.

“We had a biologist look at it and he said it was definitely wood,” Fry said.

Another Puako resident, Robert Teytaud, saw what he described as a reddish material floating offshore Tuesday evening, too. On Wednesday morning, he headed down to the beach, where he discovered a large amount of the unidentified material.

“This stuff was absolutely unique,” Teytaud said. “It looked like mulch, uniformly chopped up. All of this was the same size and consistent.”

He said he heard reports that beaches north of Puako had similar sediment wash down from mauka areas.

Teytaud reported the sediment to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, which sent an officer to investigate on Thursday.

A DLNR spokeswoman wasn’t aware of the sediment situation Friday. She did not provide more information about the investigation as of deadline Friday.

The National Weather Service on Saturday issued a flash flood warning for leeward Kohala from Kawaihae to Hawi, because of heavy rains. Fry said rain came down again Thursday so heavily in Kawaihae that canoes at the Kawaihae Canoe Club were filled to the top with rainwater. He also saw sediment on Kawaihae Road, something he said he couldn’t remember seeing in the 10 years he has been paddling there.