$2.7M settlement reached in Enchanted Lake pollution lawsuits

$2.7M settlement reached in Enchanted Lake pollution lawsuits

ENCHANTED LAKE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Enchanted Lake is a brackish body of water that used to be called Kaelepulu Pond.  It's long been the source of complaints from people who live around the lake.

"It's been a recurring issue for years that you hear folks complaining about noxious odors and really bad conditions in the lake," said Rep. Chris Lee, who represents Kailua and Waimanalo.

Lake-side homeowners accused Delta Construction of polluting the lake with run-off from a job site in 2010 and 2011. The run-off included dirt, mulch and fertilizer.  Residents claimed it caused harmful algae to grow.

Lee's office fielded complaints.

"You've had a lot of concern over dying fish and invasive species and all sorts of things that just shouldn't be there," he said.

In 2012, the home owners and the Enchanted Lake Residents Association sued the construction company and two other parties. With the help of a mediator the suits have been settled for $2.7 million.

Watershed expert Todd Cullison of the group Hui o Ko'olaupoko said it's welcome news.

"We can hope it will galvanize the community and the players and supporters of the lake, and they can move forward with a management plan to make improvements," he said.

About $1,600 will go to each of the 247 property owners in the class-action lawsuit. The resident's association will use the lion's share of the money to remove contaminants from Enchanted Lake and pinpoint and eliminate other pollution points.

"We can't expect this thing to happen overnight," Cullison said. "Those things can be slow. But if done right and methodical with as many people on board as possible, it'll work."

Lee believes the settlement has broader implications.

"The worse water quality is in lakes like this, the worse it is out in our bays, which are central to our communities, to our tourist industry, and to life here in Hawaii," he said.

The parties in the case are bound by a confidentiality clause.

The settlement protects Delta Construction against future claims associated with Enchanted Lake.

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