A Watershed Moment
in Ala Wai Canal Cleanup Effort

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (9/19/98)
By Ray Pendleton

At its celebration last month at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, the Ala Wai Canal Watershed Improvement Project unveiled some 16 community-based efforts that, it hopes, will begin reducing pollution in the Ala Wai Canal.

These projects within a project cover a wide assortment of efforts: stream restoration and stabilization, trash dumping mitigation, taro loi construction, water quality testing, storm drain filter installations, wetland restoration, canal-bank restoration, and youth educational outreach coordination.

The funding for the entire project comes from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, and the funds are being administered by our state's Department of Health.

Of all the guest speakers applauding the project, none gave a more graphic - or amusing - picture of why government seems unable to solve many of our problems than the Health Department's director, Dr. Bruce Anderson.

"Common sense says when you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount," Anderson said. "However, in the government, we often try other strategies. These include:
o Buying a stronger whip.
o Changing riders.
o Appointing a committee to study the horse.
o Arranging to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses.
o Appointing a team to revive the dead horse.
o Passing legislation declaring that 'This horse is not dead.'
o Harnessing several dead horses together for increased speed.
o Providing additional funding to increase the horse's performance.
o Doing a study to see if contractors can ride it cheaper.
o Declare the horse is 'better, faster, cheaper' dead.

"Now," Anderson continued, "we are actually going to try something very different. We are going to mount a new horse, one that is alive and well - whose potential is just being realized - the community-based, Ala Wai Watershed Improvement Project.

"We have often talked about empowering communities, the need for partnerships, and for government agencies to cooperate with one another, to maximize their strengths and resources.

"Today, I am pleased and honored to announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding - signed by all of the state, federal and county agencies involved with the project.

"This MOU states in short that all these agencies agree to work together to develop and implement a strategy to protect water quality and pledge their support to the efforts of the Ala Wai Canal Watershed Improvement Project.

"This is just the beginning. I have seen this project grow from its humble beginnings in Senator Inouye's office, and witnessed the hundreds of hours many volunteers have given to-date to make it work.

"I have no doubt about its success. I am proud to be riding with you."

We can only hope that Dr. Anderson is correct in his assessment of this new horse, and that it has a long and healthy track record. And, maybe now we can look at a few other dead horses like the Natatorium War Memorial and our state-run recreational boating marinas?.

Last week's Column -|- More Water Ways

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