At the Mānoa – Pālolo Stream, We Find the Culprit of the Threat to Waikiki

Updated July 29, 2017 and July 15, 2020

Most of the problems in life are because of two reasons: we act without thinking or we keep thinking without acting.
–Unknown

Above. Located near to 2979 Koali Road which is in a residential area, one can see with the naked eye, the murkiness of the Mānoa Stream as it mutes the orange color of the fish shown here. In contrast, take for example, when you see into a Koi pond; if the water is clear, you can clearly see the orange colors and scales of the Koi. In this case, one cannot see the color of the fish clearly let alone its scales, even though this fish is only inches below the surface of the water.
Above. The best place to compare the murkiness of the Mānoa Stream to the clarity of the Pālolo Stream is where the two streams meet. 2979 Koali Road, Honolulu, HI 96826, is the closest street address.

Where the Mānoa Stream and the Pālolo Stream meet, you can easily compare, with a naked eye, the murkiness of the Mānoa Stream to the clarity of the Pālolo Stream.
Where the streams meet, the site of our field research, is in a residential area. There is no public parking. If you visit this site during mid-day, perhaps bring some earplugs and a bottle of water, and also wear a good pair of walking shoes.

Above. The above is the intersection of Koali Road and Waialae Avenue, a residential area that leads to the access points to the riverbanks of the Mānoa and Pālolo Streams, so we can view the two streams.
Above. Here are the areas right around the intersection of Koali Road and Waialae Avenue.

Pedestrian Access from the West

Above. Nearby roads such as the Old Waialae Road Separation is usually filled with automobiles and rarely have pedestrians, so you need to be careful of cars when you traverse these roads. Since there is no parking at 2979 Koali Road as it is in a residential area, one way to access the location is to walk.

Above. The route number one bus stop near 2769 South King Street.

Pedestrian Access from the East

Above. In the mid-ground to the right is the bus stop near the intersection of Koali Road and Waialae Avenue.
Above. Waialae Avenue and Kapiolani Boulevard bus stop number 2104 near the intersection of Koali Road and Waialae Avenue.

Mānoa Pālolo Drainage Canal

Above. While at 2823-2845 Waialae Avenue or GPS coordinates: 21°17’25.5″N 157°48’53.7″W and looking south or “makai,” brush grows abundantly at the Mānoa Pālolo Drainage Canal.
Above. Where the Mānoa Stream and the Pālolo Stream meet to form the Mānoa Pālolo Drainage Canal which is in the foreground of the above picture.

Pālolo Stream

Above. Walk to over Koali Bridge to go to 2979 Koali Road, or GPS coordinates 21°17’28.0″N 157°48’52.6″W, to gain access to the riverbank of the Pālolo Stream.
Above. Because Pālolo Stream’s water is clear, one can see the litter easily.
Above. View of Waialae Avenue from the riverbank of Pālolo Stream
Above. The water of Pālolo Stream is clear.
Above. The water of Pālolo Stream is clear.
Above. The water of Pālolo Stream is clear.
Above. The water of Pālolo Stream is clear.
Above. The water of Pālolo Stream is clear.
Above. View of the Koali Bridge from the riverbank of the Pālolo Stream.
Above. The water of Pālolo Stream is clear.
Above. The water of Pālolo Stream is clear.

Mānoa Stream

Above. Due to brush overgrowth, access to the Mānoa stream bank was not possible.
Above. There appears to be dumping activity.

 

Above. As seen from Koali Road, the Mānoa Stream is murky.
Above. Alongside Koali Road is the Mānoa Stream. In the background is the property of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.
Above. Here is the ultimate litmus test. The murky Mānoa Stream mutes the orange color of the fish shown here. In contrast, take for example, when you see into a Koi pond; if the water is clear, you can clearly see the orange colors and scales of the Koi.  In this case, one cannot see the color of the fish clearly let alone its scales, even though this fish is only inches below the surface of the water.
Above. The Mānoa Stream is murky.

Above. The Mānoa Stream is murky.

Conclusion

Above. The Pālolo Stream is clear.
Above. The Mānoa Stream is murky!

The lack of Gobi fish in the Mānoa Stream is an indication of an ecosystem problem that originates uphill in Mānoa. The culprit is the Albizia trees, which do not readily absorb much water. Thus, sheets of water pass over its roots and carry siltation. In other words, the runoff contains brown suspended matter that discharges into the Mānoa stream, and then flows down to the Ala Wai Canal, which ends up to be periodically dredged up!

Therefore, the Albizia trees in Mānoa is the root cause of the murkiness of the Mānoa stream, and thus, are a threat to the Ala Wai Watershed, namely Waikiki, which is downstream of Mānoa!

Credits

Ala Wai Watershed Association (AWWA), for information about how the Albizia trees cause siltation and sedimentation.
Kenneth Kaneshiro, for supporting information.

Related Links:

In Mānoa, a Seemingly Harmless Verdant Expanse is the Biggest Threat to Waikiki

~~~

A Chinese American, Emy Louie (雷慧妮) was born in Hong Kong and raised in Honolulu, Hawai’i. She graduated from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa in 1991 and earned a degree in Architecture.

In 1993, Ms. Louie relocated to the mainland United States and from 2007 to 2012, she hosted her radio show to interview the movers and shakers of sustainable design and green building and taught continuing education classes to design professionals.

She is president of Emy Louie, Consulting Services, which works on design, conservation, and environmental projects. Since 2018, Ms. Louie spends her time in Honolulu and Central America to do environmental field research.

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