Enclose it for safety
The Lower Hamakua ditch system needs to be enclosed.
The historic and current purpose of the ditch water has always remained the same, to provide irrigation water for agriculture.
Those who want to keep it exposed either don’t care about agriculture or are completely unaware or unconcerned about the hazards.
I am a trained aquatic biologist and user of this system and rely on a clean and reliable source of water to raise koi and livestock commercially, as well as food for my family and friends.
We have been lucky — so far. This open system is a dangerous hazard in so many ways. I’ve personally chased groups of kids out of it who were playing in the ditch building dams and rafting in it, once near an open pipe that could have drowned smaller kids if they lost their footing.
My neighbor pulled a dead pig out of the ditch, luckily before it had a chance to decompose. I had planned on raising several acres of asparagus in addition to my koi farm using ditch water, but the risk of contamination to the crop and the people who consume it is too high, especially if a dead animal and/or their waste contaminates the crop.
Livestock that drink this water are also at risk. It is so easy for toxins and biological contaminants to enter this system that I cannot use overhead irrigation.
Currently, all ditch water must be substantially filtered and sterilized for my animals, which adds significantly to the cost of agricultural production.
For the sake of public health, the risk of an open ditch is much too high.
Keauhou Beach Hotel
What is pono?
Does no one care? I have seen no public commentary about Kamehameha Schools’ plans to close the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Hotel and tear it down.
Neither have I seen any explanation for this plan. Surely, if an environmental impact assessment is required before building anything in a culturally or ecologically significant area, should there not be an EIA before tearing down such an icon of our community?
The Kona Lagoon was torn down. The Kona Gardens were destroyed. There were promises by Kamehameha Schools to restore those areas but nothing ever came of that.
Kupuna have described to me the old days, before those hotels were built, when the area was considered sacred ground. It was actually scary to the keiki to wander around there.
Maybe there are reasons to remove this hotel. Maybe not.
When my wife and family first visited Hawaii back in 1985 we stayed at the Aston Keauhou Beach Hotel and swam at Kahaluu Beach Park and we were so impressed that we moved here six months later.
This has been one of the most heavily utilized community centers in Kona for so many local activities that it’s impossible to enumerate them all.
Many, if not most, of the staff at the hotel have worked there loyally for decades.
Are there no alternatives to closure, to destruction of an icon?
Does the community have any say in this?
Is it that Kamehameha Schools is bigger than God?
What is the pono thing to do?
Barry Blum, MD