WAIPAHU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Residents are raising concerns about a homeless encampment in Waipahu, which they say is behind a growing pollution problem in the Waipahu drainage ditch.
They say about 20 homeless people, including children, live beneath the Honowai Street Bridge near the H-1 Freeway.
The city has cleaned the Waipahu Drainage Ditch several times over the years, only to see it fill up with garbage again. Residents say the homeless in the area are a major source of the pollution in the ditch -- and they're asking the city for help.
"The trash as you can see, they're going to throw it in the canal and it goes down straight to Pearl Harbor," said Carl Flores, a longtime Waipahu resident.
"I see anything from shopping carts, I see syringes, I see feces and they urinate and take a dump inside the five gallon buckets."
Residents also say the homeless are a security risk -- and might be in danger living so close to the waterway.
During heavy rains this winter, several children had to be evacuated from the stream. "At one time the fire department had to rescue them because of the flash flood," said resident Anthony Sedeno.
For more than a year, environmental activist Carroll Cox has been investigating the type of waste that winds up in the drainage canal. Hawaii News Now reported in November that the activist had prompted the city to clean up the polluted canal.
But the trash is piling up again.
"It's all being introduced upstream and then flowing downstream and then subsequently into the ocean," said Cox.