Water is Life:
An interview with Bridget Hammerquist
May 12, 2021
Larry Graff, Executive Director PAL Kaua'i
Bridget Hammerquist, Friends of Maha'ulepu
PAL H20 Meeting
May 11, 2021 at 11:30 am
With Larry Graff, Bridget Hammerquist, attended in part by Ka’iulani Kauahi
(Transcription provided by Microsoft)
Q: Bridget tell us your background and how you 1st came to be involved as an advocate for water here on Kaua'i
A: Well it's probably a little bit of being born here Well it's probably a little bit of being born here on the big island, before statehood. I was 12 when Hawai’i became a state so I remember what it was like before. I came to love the land. I ran around barefoot, we didn't have to wear shoes, you know, until 7th grade. You could go barefoot. At the school I went to we had an option on the sugar Plantation I grew up on. You didn't have to do PE you could opt to have a garden so I had a garden I was kind of always in the dirt growing things it was a real love and if I wasn't there I was scooting around little estuary areas fishing for goadie or tilapia. I was a child of the land and came to really love these islands I consider them God's garden I came back and lived here full time.
A woman, whose father used to be a cattle rancher on the mainland, so she knew a lot about cows, came running up to my steps one day because I had a background in law and had been a trial lawyer for 25 years before I retired, and a the judge at the end of that term. She said “you have to stop this.” I didn't even know why one would want to stop dairy. She said “it’s not just a dairy, it’s an industrial dairy they want to put 2000 pregnant cows in Maha’ulepu Valley.” As a teenager I would visit the valley and have a great time and swim all day. So, I thought “Wow, 2000 pounds,” and I got doing some reading and realized that this is really not good for the environment because of the volume of waste they produce.
That means every time it would rain it was going to wash into one of the streams there and go directly to the ocean and so this was going to be direct contamination of the ocean. And the county government people in Mayor down thought, “oh no, this will be OK, it will be OK,” and we start pressing and saying “what are you thinking is going to happen with the waist?” And finally we got people who were proposing the plan to admit that 20% of the waste would likely be lost to environment. We really realized after short time 20% was 40000 pounds a month of untreated manure going into the ocean and kill the reef or fish supply not to mention making it an unsafe place to swim.
The current of Mahaulepu (that's the current course, though sometimes it does change, but usually) is east to west just like the wind. So, I got involved with that because I also have a background in nursing. Before I became an attorney I was a nurse. I realized biology and the consequences for the public health and I just got started. We had two billionaires to fight, one was the owner of Grove Farms, Steve Case, and the other was the owner of ‘Ulu Pono Initiative, Pierre Omidyar. [Omidyar] had an idea about putting an industrial dairy in every county. He was going to have five, he was going to have 10,000 dairy cows actively producing in the state. Well, I'm happy to say with a lot of fight and two court cases, they never did bring the cows here [to Kaua’i]. They did bring the cows to the Big Island and that dairy has since closed as well for the same reason; they could not contain the waste and they were forced to shut down by a lawsuit and the state giving them fines for their wastewater that was just rolling into the Pacific Ocean. It was contaminating waters of the state and the US and that's not OK. They didn't have any kind of permit to do it, they didn’t have and NPDES permit. You realize, once you start studying we are volcanic rocks in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. We have resources, but only what the rain brings us. We don't have a lot of room for managing waste. We have to be careful what we create, we have to have a place to put it, things roll down hill, everything by the design of this island rolls to the ocean. So, that got me into that fight and then from there the water because Grove Farm had committed to give Omidyar up to 3 million gallons of fresh water a day.
We asked the people proposing to build the dairy where they're going to get 3 million gallons a day, they said, “Grove Farm has guaranteed it to us.” So we asked “Okay, but where is Grove Farm getting it?” Well, it turns out we learned there are two stream diversions on two state land stream. One of them our most revered mountain, Waialeale, the next stream to Waikoko stream, both state land streams, and about 10 other streams before they hit the Koloa ditch system.
It’s called the Koloa Ditch system because the water can be ditched all the way to the Waitai in Koloa. The Hawaiians used to bring the water from there, but they brought a modest amount, just what they needed to grow their crops not you know the neighbourhood of 3 million gallons a day. And we have had droughts here, between 2010 and 2015 we had a pretty good sized drought and I know of the Frias's and Willie sanchez, both cattle ranchers on island, received federal funds because they lost so much of their grazing land and the grasses because of our drought. It affected their crops and so they received aid for those years that we were in drought. So, we do have drought even though people think of us is a lush garden island, which we are, but we still have drought and we have reduction in water so we have to take care of it
Q: Who really controls the water And how does it get to our tap?What is that historical background? What are the permits or permissions?
A: You said something in your question, you said “permission” but they [Grove Farm] don't have permission. That's what we are fighting now. We have a water case I call “the water case” for lack of a better term, and the interim court of appeal's going to be receiving our final brief tomorrow.
This cases raises that exact issue. There is the Constitution for the state of a way that identifies water as one of our most precious public trust resources and there are statutes in the state that were created by the legislature to meet the requirements of the Hawai’i State Constitution. One of these statutes, Hawaii Revised Statute 171-58 1,and the Water Code 174C, they are kind of hallmarks of how we’re supposed to manage our water. The reality is that all of our governmental centers, The Commission on Water Resource Management, DLNR, the DOH, they are all based on O’ahu. So, what's happened is over time the outer islands really have done what they wanted to do. This kind of dates back to the time before statehood when the sugar industry was developed in the late 1800s and the early 1900s, there was no state. We were a territory of the US, we had a territorial governor, and they pretty much took what they wanted. They built diversions on all of our major streams. Kaua’i has many many diversions in mail had to be registered in 1989 by proclamation of the legislature and they were registered. After that the DLNR, at some point in time, sort of abandoned doing any policing of stream diversions. The only ones they concentrated on where those are on state land streams and of the entire state, there's only thirteen stream diversion permits issued by the DLNR, but there are a lot of other diversions that are taking water regularly. We were active in this effort to restore stream flow in Lawai Stream, right here on the West side and the Commission on Water Resource Management just issued a rather historic ruling.
They told Alexander and Baldwin (A &B), “you can't take base flow anymore.” All the old sugar diversions were designed to take from the bottom of the stream bed and everything they could capture all the way up. So, the stream diversion went into the stream and it was built to capture what's called base flow, that means the steady flow that's there every day whether it rains or not. A&B took so much flow from many, many of the streams that they created dry stream beds on the ocean side of their diversion. That’s been the practice for 80 plus years some of them up to 110 years. It's done tremendous damage to the natural flora, fauna and the ecosystem. We have some really endangered Hawaiian shrimp (‘opae) and other species. These species were so plentiful the Hawaiians harvested as many as they wanted; they were still being harvested plentifully when I was a child. Now they've been really terribly diminished and are marked as endangered because of the size of their populations. I think the commission on water resource management finally got a state hydrologist on board. They hired him in 2015, he’s a PhD Hydrologist, real bright young man and he’s done an enormous job, he’s worked his butt off because he’s had to cover so many streams on so many islands that are being terribly abused and the environment around them is being killed. So, when we went to bat for the Lawai stream with the CWRM, we contacted the hydrologist, He went out and he measured stream flow and he had two years worth of records and finally it came to a hearing a little over a month ago. The CWRM said what we do here we need to do throughout the state. They told A&B, no more base flow you have to redesign your diversion. The diversion can't be made of boards because the boards will rot and fall away and then you’re taking more water than you should. You have to have concrete, so when you build them up, you’re taking medium or high flow. The base flow has to be allowed to remain mountain to the ocean, mauka to makai.
Q: Was that a decision specific to Lawai?
A: It was specific to Lawai, but it’s going to be a precedent. The commissioners themselves said that when they made the ruling. The ruling was unanimous and they all voted that that would be the case for Lawai stream. Fortunately, the instream flow standard and what must remain in a stream is to be set stream by stream so it's going to take some time. There are a lot of streams now before the CWRM, many on Maui and several here on island, some on the Big Island.
Q: Do the plantations who created the diversions sell water?
A: Yes, they still sell water. Grove Farm sells waters from Waialeale, Waikoko and about eight others in the Wailua watershed. They are selling it to the county to sell to potable water users both residential and commercial. They have about 15,000 households on this island now that are being serviced by water that's being taken from streams.
Q: So they are taking a public resource and selling it back to the public?
A: And they're not paying the state for it, that's why we’re on appeal. That's the case before the interim court of appeal. They are doing it without permission, they don't have a diversion permit from DLNR, which they are supposed to have. And anybody anybody can pull Hawaii Revised Statute 171.8 and read it and it says that you cannot take stream or ground water without permission from the state. That was the law that was passed to protect the public trust resource water.
The problem is the state doesn't have the political will to enforce it. They claim they don’t have the manpower to force it. There's 13 permits in the entire state, those permits now have been in existence for most of them 20 plus years, but there still no water leases in the state. The permits were supposed to be temporary, and we’ve had several large efforts of the legislature to get DLNR to move these permits to leases and they say the law is too cumbersome and too difficult, they don’t know what to charge, etc.
However, we just look at some other States like Colorado and California. They all have systems that we could borrow or we could copy. I talked to two hydrologic engineers working for the counties in California and they would be happy to share stuff with our state. It's really a lack of political will to get it done here. California figured out a pricing system charges for commercial use of water that's almost 15 times the rate that our state charges people that are using water for the few that are paying. Again, there are only 13 that are paying. Grove Farm is paying the state nothing, but it takes almost 30 million gallons a day. A&B is permitted and paying on Maui, but not here on Kaua’i, to my knowledge.
The difficulty is without (water takes) making the payments the department can never have the manpower it needs to police this. It is kind of a chicken in the egg thing, you know? If they had money coming in, they could increase their staff, they could do a better job of checking on the water and seeing what people are taking. I mean, when they did come over here and see how disastrously dead a lot of the Lawai Stream bed was and how disastrously dead a whole mile of Waialeale stream was (before the stream floor restoration), they realized it, they saw the problem, and they took care of it. They need to do it for all the major streams because we have named streams in the state and we have unnamed streams. They all need protecting.
Here's the big thing. They did this for sugar, right? Well, under the law once that use, even for those that had a permit, once that use for sugar ended, they were supposed to stop taking water. Because they are not taking for sugar anymore, it's not needed to cultivate the crop. Over here A&B used to have sugar that they had a drip irrigation system that was fed by the live stream, but that ended in 1996. So, why did they keep taking? Well, they developed Kukui’ula, a wonderful, large high end home development, right? They put in a 20 acre Lake! There is a manmade 20 acre lake with private fish stock. So, the people who own at Kukui’ula have their club membership and the membership to the development, they have permission to go fish in the lake whenever they want and they see the lake. But at what cost? They took public trust resource to build it, they use public trust resource to water all those beautiful green lawns in there and they just felt that because they had diversions in place that they maintained, they had a right to take the water they wanted. That came out pretty clearly during the hearing because the hydrologist for A&B was testifying (he had sort of a Boston accent), he was talking about what they take and he said, “well, yes we have 5 or 6 reservoirs all in a row capturing this water, but we can't really water any crops with the bottom 3 because we would have to pump.” And I loved it when of the commissioners said, “well, sounds like you shouldn't take it out of the stream if you can’t use it.”
That’s what’s happening on the island, a lot. Water banking. Grove Farm hoards a tremendous amount of water. The Waita is one of, if not the biggest, reservoirs in the state of Hawai’i. It holds over 3 billion gallons and when you go to the state's dam safety site, they report it as “three thousand one hundred and nineteen million gallons.” That's 3.2 billion gallons of water in the Waita. And they have the kapaia reservoir, and the reservoir in Oma’o, and they have this resevoir and that reservoir. They just have these reservoirs where they have empoundments of water, multimillions of gallons of water. Some of it sits there and is used in, part some of it actually has to be drained directly to the ocean in other streams because when the rains come even the reservoirs get too full; they have to be emptied. In March we had all the rain, Koloa town flooded. On March 8th, the Waita Resevoir was 15.8 ft deep of water, on March 13 the Waita hit 19.1 feet. That’s an alarm level. At 21 feet it’s starts spilling through the spillway to protect the earthen dam from rupturing. The spillway is a direct trajectory to Koloa town, and if it starts spilling millions of gallons of water, you would see homes wrecked, homes floating, cars going down to the ocean. It would be a mess. So, all of these reservoirs have the ability for water to be drawn off them for use. So, Grove Farms started opening up the plumbing and lowering the height of that water because it was so dangerous. So, people who maintain the dam, like Grove Farms and A&B they spend (not as much as they should) effort working on them to keep them reasonably safe, we hope. But they also get free water. Tons of tons and tons of free water for whatever they want to do and we don't think that's right. Not only that, but the dam safety people have been over and inspected like the Waita. The Oma’o dam has lost its spillway, it's not there at all. The Waita, one spill way got taken out it was just laying on the banks, nobody knows why. The spillway that would take the water into Maha’ulepu Valley, which is a safe place because there are no homes in there, no people living in there, so if there was an emergency and it had to be emptied, that would be the direction you want to go, to an uninhabited part of the island, right? They took the Maha’ulepu spillway out! There’s no explanation for it. Right now it's aimed at Koloa town. You can go on the dam safety site for DLNR and you can find this stuff out. There is a Google collection of pictures on the state site, you can see all these pictures and they are all captioned. When they inspected the Waita last, the captioning identified fishers and areas of what they call significant concern. They were really questioning the safety of the dam, they noted that the vegetation was not being maintained, it was eroding the earthen banks of the dam and, by the way, the dam is 105 years old. So, how long is that earthen dam expected to hold, especially when you take it up almost 3.5 feet in a period of 6 days with the rain storm.
Q: How does that dam compare in size and amount of water to Pflueger dam in Kapaa?
A: It's easily 10 times the size of Pflueger dam.
Q: Does Grove Farm treat the water they sell to the county that gets sold to the 15k homes in Lihue? Who is responsible for treating it? What is the water quality like?
A: You can trackback on the county Department of Water site, they put out an annual report on the quality of the water. Up until 2004, the entire island was relying on well water and then they noticed that with the cessation of sugar they believe that some of the aquifers weren't being restored as they were when sugar was around.
So, the USGS came into the study and they kind of concluded that when sugar was here they had a system of what they called “feral field flooding.” They would let water out into ditches, a whole ditch network would run between the rows of sugar cane, and there were ditch men. Crews of ditch men their job was to go in the truck and manually open and close and fill these ditches with water irrigate the sugar cane. In areas where they got enough rain, not so much, but in areas where it wasn't raining. Sugar needs a lot of water, so they had this wonderful system and by putting water on the ground spread all over the place the perk would restore thought aquifers at a pretty eve, regular rate so that even though they were pulling water out to give to all the residents on the island for consumption they seemed to always be restored.
Some time in 2004 it came to their attention that the aquifers didn’t seem to be restoring, the wells didn’t seem to be refilling at the same rate. So, they looked for another source. Plus electricity was going up in cost and they had to pump they used the wells. But if they used their stream diversions which they no longer needed for feral field flooding and they just channel the water through one single ditch systems (like the ‘Ili’ili ‘Ula and Koloa ditch systems) they could use the water and build a surface water treatment plant. Sounded like a great idea that Grove Farm came up with. They went to the county and they said let's do this together. So, the county put up two thirds of the bill and Grove Farm put up one third of the bill. They built a surface water treatment plant that Grove was responsible to operate. It wasn't until 2018, when there was an issue about water going to DHHL lots that were on the West side (Lihue side) of the Wailua River, that Mel Rapozo discovered for the first time from the chief engineer of the Water Department that there were all these homes in Wailua, Houselots, Kapa’a, that were getting water from the surface water treatment that was built in 2004. Why did Mel and the rest of the council just find out about it in 2018? Because Grove Farm and the county never did an enviornmental assessment or an EIS, they never had a public notice, they just built it. The county issued themselves the permits they needed, they built it,they didn't have any public input, they didn’t care what it did to the environment, they didn't study the upstream consequence to the streams in the rivers they were tapping into. I mean North Fork Wailua and Waialeale stream those are big contributors to the Wailua River, and the Wailua River has been steadily going down year after year and the bacteria at the mouth of the Wailua has been steadily rising because it's not getting the flushing. Now the Wailua River is getting the silt buildup in it just like the Waimea River has because it doesn't flush because of all the water that's taken out of it by the Koke’e ditch system. This is a problem that's getting no policing. It’s enormous.
Grove Farms did this with the county's money, on state land, without any environmental study, they totally violated the Hawaii Environmental Protection Act.Totally Violate it. How do they get to do that? Well, who’s watching? We’re the northernmost island, we’re small, who is over here? There’s no state agency, really, on island that's doing any inspecting. When they announced they were putting in a new 18" main along with a 16" main and a 12" main that's pulling water off the Kapaia Resevoir, which is the impoundment of the water being taken off the from the Waialeale and Waikoko and all these other streams, when they announced they were adding that piping in 2018, through a notice, they finally did an environmental assessment. Finally because one of the engineers in the department said, “you know were supposed to do this. We’re supposed to give a public notice.” That's when we really became aware, in 2018, and that’s when Mel Rapozo looked at the Department of Water Director at the time and said, “you mean over in Kapa’a, we’re all drinking ditch water?” The director look backed and said. “yes.”
So, the ditch water goes to the reservoir, then it goes to a surface water treatment plan with these big filtration bladders that are supposed to filter out all the mud, rubbish, and debris, and then it actually has a flocculent added to it because it has a high aluminum content. The place where the reservoir is the floor of the reservoir is made out of bauxite because it is an earthen reservoir and it’s got a lot of aluminum in it.SO, the bauxite is in the water and they have to add a flocculent to the water to get the aluminum out. Does it work perfectly? No. Surfrider and Friends of Maha’ulepu got together and we actually went out and collected from people who volunteered to let us get water samples from their homes on the same water system. So, we knew we were getting the Waiahi treatment plant water. We found aluminium in the water at levels that exceeded the safe market, according to the EPA. However, we learned that the ladders they filter with were at the end of their life. They have 15 years they were supposed to be replaced in 2019, they finally got replaced in 2020. So, the second round of testing we did the aluminum wasn’t high in the drinking water, but it’s still very high in the waste water. When you have an operation like that, you are supposed to have what's called a National Pollution Elimination Discharge System (NPEDS), it's a federal permit to discharge the wastewater. In other words, you have to put down how much [waste water] you’re making, where you are putting it, are you containing it, and is it going back into the environment.
They wrote to our wastewater branch chief and said, “ok, we dump it on the ground for vegetation.” She explained that vegetation can’t have it because when it gets filtered out, the aluminum is in a concentrated form. You’ve got exceedences in your waste water.” They report exceedances regularly, they tell the state every month how much extra aluminum they have in the waste water. So, she said you can't put it on the ground because then it will go into the aquifer and potentially contaminate the wells in the area.
Then Grove Farms asked if they could just put the concentrated aluminum waste water back into the reservoirs. She explained they can’t do that either because they are just returning a more concentrated form of what is already a problem in the reservoir. She told them they had to get detention bases.
So, Steve Case, the billionaire who owns Grove Farms, had Grove Farms write a letter to the state, the Commissioner of Water Resource Management pleading for the state to give them $100k to buy the detention bases they need to keep the environment clean. The state didn’t give them the $100k. In my mind, if a billionaire is going to build a surface water treatment plant and he’s going to charge the county $2.6 million a year for the water he is selling us, and he charges the county not just for the water, but also 100% of the power for the plant. Grove Farms won’t put in solar because they don’t care since they aren’t paying the bill for the power since the county agreed to pay 100% of power. This is on top of the county paying two thirds of all maintenance and operating costs over the water. Yes, Grove Farms is “making” water but it’s not costing them very much and whatever they have in excess of what the county needs, they get to use for their own developments. It’s really quite the boondoggle and Grove Farms had the nerve to ask for $100k. Have they bought the basins yet? Not to my knowledge. Are they still putting the waste water back in the reservoir? According to the last letter I found between Grove Farm and the State of Hawai’i DOH, yes they are. So this stuff moves slowly and our water is not getting the protection or attention it deserves.
I know when we had the “Cow Fight” our environmental attorney, who has been doing it for 25 years, said to me you need to adjust to the fact that most of your state agencies are permitting bodies. They are permitting businesses to operate, they are trying to improve the state's economic health. They are not really there to protect the public or the environment.
I think that's why the legislature passed laws that lets us file lawsuits and stand in the shoes of the agencies designed to protect us. And at the end, if we win, then we get to ask for attorneys fees and costs.
Q: So the water is now safe to drink but it is still polluting the land?
A: Correct. We're robbing from our streams and I am not convinced we have to.I think all the streams should have their diversions reworked so that they are not drying up the stream beds below the point where the water is being removed. In other words, they have to be built up so your base flows stays in your streams. All the fisherman I know, the Hawaiian men, Filipino men, and Asian men that have been fishing the coastline for years will tell you the fish are way down in numbers. Apparently for fishery health, there is supposed to be a regular flushing of freshwater. When we have all the streamflow we did with the storms in 2018 and then again earlier this year, there actually was an improvement in the quality and quantity of the fish. Our fisheries’ biologist on Kaua’i has retired now, but has told me for years the ocean's health is directly dependent on stream health.
Q: Do you have any comment on the development on the West side that is supposedly using sustainable sources for water and things like solar for energy?
A: Well Earth Justice is working on it and I can just share with you that there's a little bit of a shell game going on. The community on the West side started out trying to protect their streams and try to protect Waimea river. There are pumps that pump 24 hours a day to pump water from the Mana flats out to sea. They’ve been taking a ton of water through the Koke’e ditch system for years, millions of millions of gallons. They used to use it for sugar in Kekaha. When sugar stopped in Kekaha, they didn't stop taking the water they just didn't use it all. They pump it out to sea. The people on the westside rose up and brought a lawsuit, maybe 18 years ago, to restore flow to the Waimea river. When they were working on this there was a pump storage plan introduced by KIUC, it is a great idea. They take and let the water flow down freely at night through the power plant and into a holding reservoir and during the day when the Sun is out it runs the pumps to pump the water back up mauka, to the mountain reservoir. Then it cycles again, every night. So, there's very little waste, there is some evaporation. Basically, once the two reservoirs, mauka and makai, are full you are working with the same body of water to make power. They went through this negotiation process and KIUC came up with this idea, there was a gentleman who came over to mediate because the lawsuit had been underway for so many years. I went to the CWRM hearing in Lihue, where they took testimony from the island people, where they actually made an onsite track tour of the Koke’e Ditch system and they got measurements in stream flow and ditch flow. The interesting that came out of that that stayed with me was that the flow in the Koke’e Ditch system exceed the flow of that in the Waimea River. When this fact was announced during the hearing, one of the people in the audience said, “maybe we should call it the Koke’e River and the Waimea Ditch.”
And you know, I never will forget that. I mean people are upset over there.They watched their water just going down and down. So, KIUC came in with this pump storage system and they had an older hydropower plant over there. Our hydrologists, that we are working with on our “Water Case”, was part of negotiation and he said in the last 2 weeks of negotiation, KIUC came back to the table and said, “Well, you know we need pump storage, but we can also produce a lot of power, more power and maybe furnish the Hawaiian Homelands over there if we put in a standard hydro power plant with oil generator support backup.”
There’s no reservoir mauka or makai, this is just going to be 20 or 14 million gallons a day, whatever they need, 14- 20 million gallons a day. And it's just going to be taken off the mountain and out to the ocean after it goes through they Hydropower Plant. Some of it will go into the Hawaiian Homelands for irrigation, but there’s no conservation of that. Dr. Berg, who is a good friend and a great guy, who has worked really hard with Surfrider and test for bacteria, who has been a big advocate of warning people when bacteria is too high, and he asked me, “it’s just a pump storage system, right?”
I told him, “no, it’s not. They brought in this big Hydropower Plant that they are going to build as well. That one is going to take water just like classic Hydropower Plants.”
He said, “wait a minute, the mainland is shutting down its Hydropower Plants because it realizes how much environmental damage they do.”
The state of Washington and the State of Oregon are not doing those anymore and they are doing all kinds of alternatives, like pump storage or with the plumbing- if they have the benefit of gravity they put generators right in the plumbing. They generate power as the water goes through on its way to the rivers, so they don’t waste it.
So, one of the units is going to be efficient and sustainable but the other is “old style” and not sustainable for the environment at all. It's not getting a lot of coverage, but if you read through KIUC’s board minutes you could find it in there. The plan was added in the last 2 weeks of negotiation. So, consequently Earth Justice right now is in front of the Public Utilities Commission with an objection to the permits that KIUC is seeking because KIUC has not done an environmental review that they were supposed to do to prove that these operations are going to be environmentally sound.
If the water takes mud, turbidity will destroy a reef. That’s what happened up in Moloa’a, turbidity and manuer killed the reef up there. And the Pflueger dam, that was primarily mud and vegetation that killed the reef.
Q: It is always important to us at PAL to leave with a message of hope for the community. Can you give me a message of hope?
A: Our Hawai’i State Supereme Court has had seven wonderful water decisions. They really have done a good job. I mean, they came right out and called DLNR incompetent in their management of water. They made it very clear that the Constitution was written and designed to protect public trust resource water, and the state statutes are there, and they only need to be enforced.So, I have to hope that when we get our case up there, it will shine a light on all this.
If our county council chair, Mel Rapozo, didn't know he’d been drinking ditch water for eleven or twelve years, then what the heck? There’s not been enough light shown on this. My hope is that good people care and we’ve had a lot of community money donated, so when we bring these things to the public’s attention and to the court’s attention, somebody will finalize realize they need to do the righ tithing.
Yes, we have water, let's take it safely, let's do it cleanly, let's not put wastewater back on the ground. If it takes a $100k to put in the right detention basin so you can haul away the waste, do it right. Do things in a sustainable way so that in the years to come we’re not left with this God awful mess in our beautiful island, that will take eons to clean up because people want to do it on the cheap.
That’s what I’m hopeful for.
Q: How can a community member reading this help?
A:The most important thing is if they see anything, water waste, lines gushing to the ocean, dirty or brown water flowing to the ocean, report it. Call DLNR. If enough people report it, DLNR will care. Call them at 587-0400.
People don't think to report it. The Robinsons do a great job with cattle, better than Grove Farms and A&B, you know. They learned in New Zealand and Australia that they have to keep their cattle back from streams and estuaries because when it rains, the cattle kukai pollutes the streams and estuaries and then it goes out to sea. So, if it smells like a sewer when you're in the water, give them a call. That shouldn’t be happening, let them know so they can control the herd. Please shower off well, if you’re surfing in it.
Also, visit The Friends of Maha’ulepu website. Any financial support we get, I mean, making any contribution helps us to keep the lawyers paid so we can keep working on this. Many of us work on this without pay. I myself work up to 50 hours a week on this.
Q: Any more interesting facts?
A: The bacteria in water and the air from cattle is really something to be concerned about. In Mexico they ran a study about what's in the dairy air. You know, the air coming off a dairy smells bad. They cultured it out and found Methicillin Resistant Staph (MRS). These are superbugs that can’t be treated with the usual antibiotics.
So, cows grazing in the days poop in the streams of the areas and that goes into the ocean. You really need to shower well if you’re surfing in it.