Posted by Steve Lettau on Apr 11, 2023

By Brad Webber

Members of the Rotary Club of Kaka‘ako Eco, Hawaii, tossed 5,000 mud balls filled with beneficial organisms into the Ala Wai Canal in Waikiki as part of a rehabilitation effort to make the waterway fishable and swimmable. The healthy bacteria in the genki balls — made with soil, molasses, rice bran, and water — digest and oxygenate sludge at the bottom of the canal (genki means healthy in Japanese). 

In March 2022, more than 200 volunteers, including club members and friends, made the balls, advised by the Genki Ala Wai Project. Three weeks later, they threw the fermented genki balls into the waterway. Donors paid $5 per ball to defray some of the cost. “A lot of kids came out and we had canoes come through the canal to help throw the balls,” says Club President Jenny Do. “We blew the air horn and then hundreds of balls just went into the Ala Wai Canal.”