Beer Creek in Hawaii: Paradise or Ecocatastrophe?

Beer Creek in Hawaii: Paradise or Ecocatastrophe?

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On the Hawaiian island of Oahu, a tourist discovered a stream that smelled of beer. A man was walking through a lush area in the Waipio Valley when suddenly a strong smell of alcohol swept past him. It came from the nearest stream, which flowed about 35 m below the freeway.

Beer Creek in Hawaii: Paradise or Ecocatastrophe? 1

Worried about the potential environmental impact, the traveler contacted environmental activist and head of the nonprofit EnviroWatch, Carroll Cox. Ecologists have found that the caustic liquid that flows from the storm sewer gives a specific smell to the stream. Its pipe runs under the freeway, and the liquid coming out of it then flows down the cliff into a freshwater stream.

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The department that owns the pipe said the leak came from Paradise Beverages, which owns a warehouse across the street from the spill. For years people have known that the flow alternates between the smell of fruit punch and the stink of beer. An analysis of the water in the creek by researchers found it to be 1.2 percent ABV, the equivalent of low-alcohol beer. It is also found to contain 0.04 percent sugar, which gives the creek its unique smell. EnviroWatch reported its findings, which confirmed that Paradise Beverages, the state’s largest liquor supplier, is the source of the contamination.

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While the concept of an alcoholic creek may sound funny, this kind of pollution creates an inhospitable environment for marine life. Environmentalists note that as the creek flows into Pearl Harbor, it could upset the delicate balance of life in the famous port of Honolulu. Unfortunately, this is a common problem in Hawaii that wreaks havoc on an already fragile ecosystem.

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