August 2016, KEEHI LAGOON, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) –
(Editor Kobayashi Comment: Stormwater pollution continues to be a problem on the islands which will not go away. Fortunately the control of stormwater resources will continue to offer solutions to future freshwater scarcity problems on the islands. If stormwater can be slowed and saved, both pollution and freshwater supply scarcity problems can be reduced.)
The Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association’s state championships are going forward this weekend at Keehi Lagoon, but at least five canoe clubs have decided not to participate because of ongoing water quality concerns.
Flooding from Tropical Storm Darby sent large debris and trash into Keehi Lagoon, putting an upcoming outrigger canoe championship in limbo.
Participants, meanwhile, are being told to stay in their canoe on race day and out of the water.
A Brown Water Advisory for Keehi Lagoon has been lifted, but health officials say bacteria levels in the lagoon remain high.
Despite the problems, association officials are trying to remain upbeat.
“The flags are up. People are out here practicing. The tents the food booths everything is getting set,” said Water Vierra, president of the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association.
He added, “We’re encouraging all clubs to forgo the use of boat holders. They have the most exposure to the water.”
The problems at the lagoon started with Tropical Storm Darby, which sent debris and dirty run-off into the waterway popular among paddlers.
While much of the big debris has been cleared from the lagoon, bacteria levels at Keehi Lagoon are still high.
As of Friday afternoon, five Oahu canoe clubs have pulled out the race. They are: Outrigger Canoe Club, Hui Nalu O Hawaii Canoe Club, Lanikai Canoe Club, Na Keiki O Ka Mo’i Canoe Club and Manu O Ke Kai Canoe Club.
Still, Vierra said, some 3,000 paddlers are expected to come out for the competition. Typically, about 3,500 participate.
Paddlers practicing Friday used duct tape to cover open cuts on their arms and legs. And everyone was wearing slippers in and out of the water.
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