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BECQ conducts cleanup of Laulau sediment capture chamber

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THE Bureau of Environmental Quality on Friday conducted its annual cleanup of the sediment capture chamber in the Greater Laulau Bay Area.

“Every year, we try to schedule a cleanup where we basically pull out all the sediment that has been captured in the chamber, and then we’re able to collect that data every year to see the amount of sediment that we’re able to capture,” said Mallory Muna of the bureau’s Division of Coastal Resources Management.

She added that the team also removes garbage and weeds in the chamber so they will not impede the flow of water into the bay.

“We are only able to do this once a year because of our limited capacity. We would like to do it more often though,” she said.

The Bureau of Environmental Quality urges the public to refrain from dumping garbage into the Greater Laulau Bay Area sediment capture chamber. Photo by K-Andrea Evarose S. Limol

Muna said this year, not a lot of sediment has been captured. “I think we can attribute that to the lack of rainfall,” she added.

The chamber was installed about a decade ago, and the BECQ team has noted that the general public tend to treat it as a landfill, dumping all sorts of garbage.

“We do find a lot of garbage in here. [Today] we found a bunch of old tires, animal carcasses, and bags of trash. We want to remind the public that [this] is not a garbage bin. It is a sediment capture chamber. Avoid all illegal dumping, especially [where] it is really important that we keep the flow [of water] clear,” Muna said.

BECQ-water quality surveillance & nonpoint source branch manager Larry Maurin added, “This is what we call a best management practice, or BMP, to build a structure like this to capture sediment that’s coming down from the upper part of this watershed. The watershed is a drainage area, [which is] like a catchment basin. There are a lot of roads in this watershed. This specific watershed has had sediment issues. Roads are a major contributor of sediment, and sediment is bad for coral health and marine life health.”

Maurin said “every year we come in and clean it out right before the rainy season starts because most of the sediment comes in at the beginning of the rainy season, so we want to make sure it’s empty of all of the sediment from the previous year.”

From the water quality aspect, he added, the team takes sediment measurements to see how sediment in the water is affecting coral health.

There is no sign installed yet at the sediment chamber, though the BECQ team has this in mind to further raise awareness and remind the general public to refrain from dumping garbage into the sediment capture chamber.

“Everyone should pick up after themselves. If you’re damaging the environment, you’re damaging things for future generations. Future generations are going to be the ones who pay for those things,” Maurin said.

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