Dispute to blame for expanses of dead grass in Ewa Villages

( Image: Hawaii News Now )
( Image: Hawaii News Now )

EWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The sign and sugar mill wheel welcoming people to "Historic Ewa Villages" used to be surrounded by lush hedges and a carpet of green grass.

Now the entrance and other common areas throughout the community look weathered and worn. The green is gone.

"It's diminished to the point where no one even wants to look at it," homeowner Nick LaCarra said.

The grass and trees along the median on Renton Road are dry and dying.

LaCarra and other homeowners said the city's sprinkler system that watered the community's parks and common areas suddenly went down three years ago — and hasn't come back.

Marci Baker has been after the city to turn it on.

"A lot of the families have been here since plantation days, so they have pride in the place," she said. "They want it to look a certain way. I feel like we've been forgotten."

The city doesn't dispute that watering the common areas is its responsibility. But it also says it hasn't restored the water because of a dispute with the Ewa Villages Owners Association.

City Department of Facility Maintenance deputy Director Ed Manglallan said because the irrigation system delivers recycled water, the association must specify a recycle water manager to comply with state health regulations.

"The Department of Facility Maintenance has had numerous site visits and meetings with the Ewa Villages Owners Association after the state Department of Health issued two R-1 Irrigation Notice of Violations," he said.

Until a manager is in place, Manglallan said the health department has "cautioned the city not to open the irrigation valves."

But the owners association said the city is being unreasonable and wants the association's water manager to maintain and repair the irrigation lines. The association believes that's the city's responsibility.

While it's being hashed out, homeowners have watched their neighborhood suffer.

"We are talking about an irrigation system. It's not rocket science," LaCarra said.

"It's like a triangle or a circle. It goes round and round with no results," Baker said.

LaCarra thought the city's recent installation of "Recycled Water -- Do Not Drink" signs on the median meant a solution was in sight.

"Those went up six months ago," he said. "We were told as soon as those signs went up they would start watering. Still no water."

Manglallan said the city does use water trucks to irrigate the trees on the median as needed, depending on weather.

LaCarra lives across from a park that used to be covered with green grass. He said when he and his neighbor complained to the city about the park's deteriorating condition he was stunned by the response.

"I was actually told if I was so concerned about the trees and the grass then maybe I should hook up a hose or two hoses and run it across the street into the park and water the trees myself," he said.

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