Who’s dumping in the Ala Wai? Many search for source after hundreds of trash bags found

Authorities are trying to figure out who’s been dumping bags of trash in the Ala Wai Canal since October.
Published: Feb. 11, 2022 at 7:27 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 11, 2022 at 9:34 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Authorities are trying to figure out who’s been dumping bags of trash in the Ala Wai Canal since October.

Although there’s a trash catchment below the Ala Moana bridge, boat owners and divers say there’s still a lot of trash bags popping up all over the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor.

“They’ll get stuck in between boats up by the seawall or other places,” said Diver, Charlie Herr. “In front of the hotels is a good place for stuff to just get stuck.”

“There’s been numerous bags floating like 20 plus 30 plus trash bags,” said Boat Owner, Tim Groh.

Groh said he started seeing many full trash bags a few weeks ago.

“I don’t understand where they’re coming from or why, but it would be nice to get something done,” Groh said.

Jeanne Martin-Hopkins lives across the street from the Waikiki Yacht Club and started noticing the bags floating down the Ala Wai in early October.

“I have personally probably seen at least 80 bags,” said Martin-Hopkins. “I’ve lived here for a long time, and this is new. It is not what has typically happened.”

DLNR said hundreds of bags have been recovered by volunteers, paddlers and Ocean Clean Up Crew like 4ocean.

On Thursday, 4ocean removed eight bags from the trap that weighed 408 pounds.

“We have found dog poop bags,” said Kristen Kelly, operations supervisor of 4ocean Hawaii. “And yesterday, there were a bunch of ceramic bowls.”

Kelly said cleaning up the mess is no easy task.

“And when we do finally get them up, they’re very full of water,” Kelly explained. “So, when we’re kind of like putting extra pressure on them, they kind of squirt out at our faces.”

“And it’s never even fun to get just regular Ala Wai water in your face and it’s a lot worse when it’s an old stinky trash bag.”

Because of health concerns, the Waikiki Yacht Club had their maintenance workers stop picking up rubbish in the area.

“One of the bags broke, people get sick, and they end up with a staph infection and taking off from work,” said Waikiki Yacht Club’s Vice Commodores Peter Gaskell.

Kelly said they’ll be cleaning the area weekly. But are currently waiting on permits to put more boom catchments in the canal.

“I hope it stops and we live in paradise,” said Martin-Hopkins. “And this is just awful that this is happening.”

The state says anyone caught throwing trash into any Hawaii waterway could face criminal littering charges.

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