Dredging Stirs Old Memories

Longtime Kailua residents often talk about the “good old days” when area kids would jump off the bridge at Ka’elepulu Stream, hoping the splash they made was big enough to drench those walking or driving by. The water quality was clean back then, and the stream was more than deep enough to jump into safely.


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The city is dredging Ka‘elepulu Stream in Kailua | Ron Mizutani photos

Those days are now long gone, and jumping off the bridge is not an option or encouraged. For one, the water quality is less than desirable, and as far as depth, you’re talking 6-10 inches at best in some areas.

It’s not uncommon to see canoe paddlers walking in the stream, pushing their canoes through the ankle-deep water. You may’ve heard of resistance training, but in this case the resistance would be too much to handle. Paddlers would be paddling in place and the sand and sludge would grind away at the fiberglass hulls. It’s been happening for years.

Help has arrived.

Two weeks ago, city crews armed with heavy machinery began dredging the stream near the bridge. The city was concerned that years of sand buildup was affecting the stream’s flow, as well as adding stress to the base of the bridge.

Many Kailua Beach regulars are applauding the city’s effort.

“I think it’s great that they’re doing something to address the issue,” says Kailua resident Gabriella Savage. “It needed to be done. Now, it’s important that they take all this sand away.”

After several days of work, city crews pushed the sand and sludge off to the side, where it has sat for more than week. The enormous, “stinky” mound is estimated to be at least 20 feet high. The city says the sand has to dry before it can be hauled away.

“We were wondering when were they going to clear this out,” says John Savage. “I have no problem with what they’re doing as long as they plan on clearing it.”

The Savages were enjoying their Sunday-morning bike ride when the massive mound of gray sand lured them off the

bike path. And, like many others, they too questioned if the material was contaminated or even toxic.

“Is it safe?” asks Gabriella Savage with a half grin. “It doesn’t look safe.”

The city is not aware of any safety hazards, but officials urge beachgoers to avoid touching the sand until it can be removed.

“I wouldn’t touch it,” laughs John Savage. “Who would want to?”

Apparently someone finds it valuable. A “Sand for Sale” sign was spotted sitting on the mound, which begs the question, “How do you sell sand that comes from a stream?”

Longtime Kailua residents say they also appreciate the city’s efforts, but add the depth of the stream will always be an issue as Kailua Beach continues to cope with erosion.

The massive gray mound is a clear reminder that the “good old days” are certainly long gone.