WAILUA — Broken television sets, dilapidated tires and other past-their-prime household items dotted the grounds around Wailua Reservoir before Lori Stitt took action.
The local resident lives about one mile from the reservoir at mile marker 5 on Kuamoo Road and walks there at least three times a week.
“There was a dumping of an old fashioned TV set and the glass was all smashed, and there was tons of trash,” Stitt said.
The trash went into her car, and Stitt took care of the mess for those who left it behind. And for the past few months, she’s been taking at least one garbage bag of trash out from the area every week.
“Local trash is definitely happening weekly,” Stitt said. “Food wrappings, bottle caps, cigarettes — those kinds of things.”
Wailua Reservoir Public Fishing Area is a local fishing hole, managed by the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Aquatic Resources. A portion of it is a dedicated to wildlife and a bird sanctuary.
Representatives from DLNR said the entity is “not quite ready to respond” to questions about the litter, but promised to look into the issue.
According to HAR 13-65, it is illegal to contaminate or pollute a reservoir, ditch or stream. And that’s what Stitt is worried about.
The majority of the trash she gleans from the land around the reservoir is cigarette butts, and she’s concerned they are being washed into the reservoir, especially after hard rains.
But cigarette butts aren’t the only things visitors have left behind.
“Someone left a dirty diaper out there, put it down in the rocks leading down to the reservoir, and I was thinking about the bacteria,” Stitt said.
Her dog found the diaper, and she removed it from the area. She said she wonders what would have happened if a different animal had scattered the contents.
“It’s an easy way to contaminate the reservoir, by leaving human waste,” Stitt said.
The majority of trash on beaches around Kauai comes in from the ocean, according to Surfrider Kauai Chapter’s president Barbara Wiedner, who cleans the beaches around Kauai through the Net Patrol program.
But it’s not just marine debris that litters the island. Items like toothbrushes, tires, abandoned vehicles and household trash are left by humans.
“Local island dumping is the worst, like over in Anahola,” Stitt said.
In January, Surfrider Kauai cleaned up beaches along the Eastside of Kauai with about 200 volunteers. That same weekend, the organization paid about $1,500 for the removal of about 25 derelict cars from the Anahola area.
At Wailua Reservoir, Stitt said she’s encouraged to see evidence of other people joining in to keep the area clean.
A few trash cans in strategic locations around the reservoir would help the situation, she suggested, because as of now, there are none.
“There are people who are trying to put it (the trash) in one spot at least, so for the most part I think people care,” Stitt said.