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 email@example.com.