No plans to fix Morgan Ponds

  • Jessica Else/The Garden Island

    Waves break on the seawall that creates Morgan’s Ponds at Lydgate Park on Saturday, near where the break in the wall allows driftwood to enter during high rain events.

  • Jessica Else/The Garden Island

    Driftwood sits at the edge of Morgan’s Ponds at Lydgate Park on Saturday.

LYDGATE — The seawall separating Morgan’s Ponds from the ocean at Lydgate Beach Park is still damaged, about eight months after debris from April floods put a hole in the rock wall.

As of right now, there are no plans to fix it, and there isn’t a budget for the project or even an estimated cost.

In June, then county Parks Director Lenny Rapozo said the repair work requires permits from Army Corps of Engineers and a Special Management Area permit — both of which require design from a coastal engineer.

That’s where the need for funding comes into play. And nothing has changed since June, according to the county.

Volunteers with Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park still pull driftwood from the ponds on a weekly basis, the volume of which fluctuates depending upon how much rain the Wailua area has gotten.

“It directly corresponds with rainfall events. Debris goes down the Wailua River and out into the ocean and then currents push it (through the opening in the seawall) and into the pond,” said Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate’s Tommy Noyes.

The county used emergency funds to clean out Morgan’s Ponds twice, to the tune of $89,000 each time, using heavy machinery to pull out the driftwood and disposing of it at Kauai Nursery and Landscaping in Puhi.

The ponds were created in 1964 by constructing a rock wall offshore, a project that was funded by the State of Hawaii, and were named for the man who kickstarted the effort, Albert S. Morgan.

Dozens of fish species frequent Morgan’s Ponds, like uhu, or parrotfish, barracuda, bluestripe snapper and butterfly fish. They’re not stocked in the pond, it’s open water and they can come and go as they please.

“The damaged wall doesn’t seem to be affecting the fish, but I’m not a biologist,” Noyes said. “But it is allowing for the accumulation of debris in the pond and if that becomes waterlogged and sinks.”

That disrupts both the fish living in the ponds and the snorkelers and swimmers who are there for the experience.

People are still swimming in the biggest pond, taking advantage of the protected area from the rest of the ocean, but only if there isn’t too much debris clogging up the water.

Most of the debris is albezia — branches, logs, and nearly full trees in some cases, have come down the Wailua River during high rain events. The debris is trapped for a time at the Wailua Bridge and then eventually washes out to sea.

That’s when currents and wind conditions generally push the debris toward Morgan’s Ponds.

Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park’s goal is to keep the park clean, attractive and safe for residents and visitors alike and volunteers gather every Saturday morning to either clean debris from the ponds or to pick up trash or plastic from the sandy beaches along the ponds and the rest of the park.

Volunteers focus on the ponds because so many visitors and families bring their keiki there to swim. Noyes sees leaving the wall in disrepair as a decision that could have economic consequences.

“Visitors use it all the time and when there’s debris in the pond, it deters from swimming,” he said.


Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or at

  1. Uncleaina December 18, 2018 6:23 am Reply

    Pathetic. Our parks are a disgrace. $89,000? We charge that much every day in fees to the tourists. We have homes valued at tens of millions of dollars and some of the highest property values in our country, but we can’t find $89,000 to keep up one of our handful of parks? Maybe you could use some of the $13 million you’re gonna spend to make Rice Street half as wide (again) instead? C’mon Derek, let’s see you take action like you said- or is it really just back to the status quo?

  2. WestKauai December 18, 2018 3:53 pm Reply

    I would be surprised if repairs are ever made. In today’s world it would be nearly impossible to build the ponds, what with Environmental Impact Statements, Special Management Permits, and multiple other hurdles including protests by the usual suspects…There might even be a call to remove the breakwaters and restore the area to its natural state…

  3. Jjjames December 18, 2018 5:40 pm Reply

    When and if we do fix the walls for the ponds, perhaps it would be beneficial to do it right for a change. Like raising the height of all the walls to prevent debris from entering the ponds in the future. Cleaning out the ponds after rain storms have proved to be quite costly for the county over the years. Spending the extra funds now will likely result in a considerable savings years down the road.

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