Harbor gets a Surfing Day cleanup

An old tire, a busted crab pot, lots of rubber slippers and countless cigarette butts.

These items were just a few of the things found near the breakwater and surrounding area at Nawiliwili Harbor yesterday.

As part of International Surfing Day, the Kaua‘i Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation sponsored a cleanup of Nawiliwili Harbor. International Surfing Day was established four years ago by the Surfrider Foundation and Surfing magazine as a day for surfers around the world to come together and give back to the oceans, waves and beaches.

“We do monthly beach cleanups,” Gordon LaBedz, a Surfrider member, said. “But this is the first harbor cleanup we have ever done.”

Another first yesterday was the joint sponsorship of the event by community organizations and federal and state agencies.

“This is the first event of its kind — getting all these groups together for this,” said Sheri Saari of Surfrider.

Besides Surfrider, other community organizations who participated in the cleanup including the Nawiliwili Yacht Club, Starbucks, Nukumoi Surf Company and Deja Vu Surf Hawai‘i. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation were also involved in the harbor cleanup.

“Government agencies rarely sponsor beach cleanups,” LaBedz said. “But everybody here, including the people who work for government agencies, has a unique appreciation for the environment.”

Annie Leighton, a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, brought along fellow auxiliary member Ken Dorland, Petty Officer Darcy Crop, Seaman Vanessa Valdes and Fireman Apprentice Joey Rasich to participate in the cleanup.

“We’re here to be a part of it and support the whole effort,” Leighton said. “People are participating and being the example to others.”

The DLNR supplied the trash bags for the event and was responsible for taking the rubbish to the landfill, Shawn Hunadi of the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation said.

“This needs to happen more often,” Hunadi said of the cleanup. “Especially with people volunteering — it’s not costing the taxpayers anything.”

Hunadi said volunteers are welcome to come down to the harbor anytime to pitch in.

“I need all the help I can get down here,” he said. “If they would like to volunteer their time, they can pick up trash and pull weeds.”

While much of the focus was on cleaning up the rubbish near the harbor, Saari said the garbage on the land affected life in the water too.

“We’re trying to divert rubbish from the harbor because it is a threat to the water quality, marine mammals and seabirds,” Saari said.

Dr. Carl Berg was on hand yesterday to present his findings from water samples specially taken for yesterday’s event, from three locations near the cleanup site.

“I have been personally doing this for years,” Berg said. “I’m now working with Surfrider to test for water quality.”

On Thursday, Berg took samples from near the Nawiliwili Coast Guard boat ramp, Kalapaki Beach stream and the Niumalu Canoe Club ramp.

After the samples were collected, they were tested for enterococcus bacteria. Enterococcus is a bacteria found in the human intestine and a good bacterial indicator for determining human waste in recreational swimming waters.

If sample results exceed 104 colony-forming units per 100 milliliters of beach water sampled, an advisory warning would be issued for the sampling site.

Berg said the state Department of Health tests the water near the beaches, while Surfrider volunteers sample water at surfing sites around the island.

“Once a month the surfers go out and collect samples,” Berg said. “They are taken back to a lab and analyzed. The results of the tests are put on www.surfrider.org/kauai so the surfers can check the conditions.”

As the cleanup began to wind down, Carl Stepath of the Nawiliwili Yacht Club said he was happy to see all the different organizations come together to participate in the cleanup.

“I love seeing people with different background working together for the common good,” Stepath said. “I wanted to see something constructive happening at this location.”

Hunadi said he sees the long-term picture for the harbor.

“Our goal is to make it a family friendly place to be,” Hunadi said. “We’re getting there.”

• Rachel Gehrlein, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or rgehrlein@kauaipubco.com

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