HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Manoa couple faces fines of at least $40,000 for allegedly altering a stream that has a history of flooding.
The state Health Department said contractors working for John and Linda Hayama filled in parts of the Manoa Stream near the Kahaloa Drive Bridge with nearly 20 dump trucks full of rocks and sand.
The DOH said the couple did not have a permit to alter the stream.
“The DOH has no record of approving dirt to be used to fill sandbags at the property,” Matthew Kurano, Environmental Health Specialist with the Health Department’s Clean Water Branch, wrote in a November 2019 inspection report.
“Further, gravel and other construction materials observed during the inspection were never authorized by the DOH.”
The fines were issued in December 2019 but environmental activist Carroll Cox took video last week on construction still going on in the stream. He said the blockage poses a potential danger to nearby homes during heavy rains.
“It’s going to back up and then overflow over its banks and then ... it will end up impacting other properties upstream," Cox said.
We spoke with one of the owners, Linda Hayama, who denied that the construction work was blocking the water flow.
She said that she and her husband had the proper permits from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers to build a new wall along the stream.
But the DOH said the couple’s permits only allowed them to use 12 cubic yards ― or about half a dump truck of fill for their new wall.
The Health Department estimated that the Hayama’s contractors placed about 193 cubic yards of rocks, gravel and dirt in the stream.
The Manoa Stream has a history of flooding during heavy rains like it did 16 years ago.
During the Halloween’s Eve Flood of 2004, the stream overflowed, deluging dozens of homes, pushing cars into trees and causing more than $80 million in damages on the University of Hawaii’s Manoa campus.
The Hayamas' home was among those damaged.
Many believe that blockages along the stream contributed to the flooding.
Cox said he hopes the state will force the homeowners or their contractors to remove the blockages before the next heavy rains come.