The state agency in charge of a Manoa Stream dredging project has modified its plan to locate sludge pits next to homes of university professors.

Carty Chang, chief engineer for the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, told the Manoa Neighborhood Board on Wednesday night that the department would relocate two swimming pool-sized basins that it would use to dry out dredged stream sludge before trucking it to a landfill in Waianae.

The department originally had planned to locate the basins in a grassy yard next to apartments for University of Hawaii faculty and staff. The proposal spawned an outcry from apartment tenants and other Manoa residents, who questioned the impact the sludge pits would have on them and asked why the department had not conducted an environmental assessment of the pits.

State engineers have agreed to move planned sludge pits from the grassy area near faculty apartments,  top right, to a site on Woodlawn Drive across from Long’s Drugs left of Manoa Stream.

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After discussions involving DLNR, UH administrators and residents, Chang said that the DLNR would locate the sludge pits on the opposite side of Manoa Stream on grounds of the UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.

“The university is grateful to DLNR for their willingness to consider the concerns of our residents and for their willingness to adjust the project. And to CTAHR for accommodating the modified project,” UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said in a statement.

Dale Kobayashi, the chairman of the Manoa Neighborhood Board who had sharply questioned the lack of an environmental assessment, said he was pleased with the decision.

Kieko Matteson, center, a UH professor, questioned Department of Land and Natural Resources officials last month about the plan to dredge Manoa Stream and store sludge next to faculty apartments.

Stewart Yerton/Civil Beat

“It was a good outcome,” he said. “I’m surprised that they ended up coming to that conclusion so quickly.”

Kieko Matteson, a professor of environmental history who emerged as a leader of the faculty residents group, echoed the sentiment.

“I feel really vindicated that we pushed so hard and they listened to us,” she said.

But Matteson said she still wished the residents had been notified sooner about the plans for the sludge basins.

“If they had done an environmental assessment to begin with, none of this would have happened,” she said.

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