The sky was demure, streaked with shades of gray and soft blue, when Koko and I went out walking this morning. The mountains were hidden beneath piles of clouds, perhaps the same ones that had dropped a bit of rain before dawn.
The medicinal smell of camphor hung heavily in the warm, humid air, mingling with the musky fragrance of hinano, the hala blossom, and the sweet, slightly fermented odor of rotting guava. Bees busily worked the inflorescence of a roadside palm, attracted by a scent that wasn’t noticeable to me.
Speaking of bees, Army and civilian scientists working on colony collapse disorder say it could be due to the combined effects of a virus and fungus:
Scientists in the project emphasize that their conclusions are not the final word. The pattern, they say, seems clear, but more research is needed to determine, for example, how further outbreaks might be prevented, and how much environmental factors like heat, cold or drought might play a role.
Or the stress caused by trucking them all over to service industrial ag, where they work in high pesticide environments and are treated chemically for mites, while being fed a diet of sugar water. As a beekeeper friend noted:
I think it all has an effect and this is just the tipping point for them. Since they are like one large organism, they don't have the best immune systems to begin with as the colony vs. the individual is more important. Other studies have found they had up to 21 different viruses and it's affected the genetic level - both RNA and DNA. Bees are a good canary though.
Seems there are still some unanswered questions about that unfortunate phenomenon.
Moving on to other topics, the mayor’s plan to build a new landfill on 120 acres at Kalepa, behind Hanamaulu, may have hit a snag. Several people brought up the issue of how the dump will impact drinking water wells and reservoirs at last night’s public meeting, where Bernard unequivocally told those present, “This is where it’s going, we’re putting it here” — before asking people for their opinion on the site.
Although about 100 people attended the meeting, only about 10 people spoke, perhaps because they were intimidated by Bernard, who stood right next to the microphone where folks had to speak. Unfortunately, neither the mayor nor the technical consultants addressed the questions about water issues.
They’re important, because activities at the site could affect a public drinking water supply, as well as Hanamaulu Bay, which is already classified as one of the top 10 most polluted waters in the nation. The consultants also said that recycling and reclamation projects associated with the dump will use a lot of water. It’s my understanding there’s been a problem drilling viable wells around Lihue, which is why Grove Farm was given permission to use treated surface water for its projects in the Hanamaulu-Lihue area. So is there sufficient water for the dump, agriculture and all the development planned for that region?
Waldeen Palmeira also brought up cultural issues associated with the site, and noted that cultural consultations will be required if federal funds are used for the road that is planned between Hanamaulu and Puhi.
Interestingly, the environmental justice consultant said that since no federal funds will be used for the project, EJ laws don’t apply. But it was also stated that Sen. Inouye has pledged his support for the project, which typically means money.
So it seems that a number of questions still need to be answered about the mayor’s preferred site. And as one speaker reminded him, a meaningful EIS has to also look at alternatives.
Update: I just talked with David Craddick, manager of the Department of Water, about the water issues related to the landfill. He said there are two low production drinking water wells in the vicinity; however, they would not necessarily need to be relocated right away. Problems typically arise 40 to 50 years after a landfill is constructed, so it would be more an issue of conducting ongoing monitoring to "see if there's a problem. If it appears a plume is headed in that direction, you would know to move it [the well.]"
The presence of the drinking water wells "is not definitely not a deal breaker" for the landfill, he said. "It just adds more expense to it, but you would still have to monitor the water in any location. That's because runoff from the landfill eventually "goes down and gets on the lens and floats out to the ocean. We live on an island, so that's the only place it can go."
His primary concern is that costs associated with monitoring and well relocation, if ultimately required, are tied to the landfill's operating costs, rather than imposed on water customers.
Craddick said the landfill is proposed for an area that is "a very tight geological formation, and by tight I mean as far as water producing, which makes it a good location for a landfill. If something gets away from you, it makes it easy to recover it, because it doesn't move too fast."
As far as contaminating a nearby reservoir used for drinking water, Craddick said the only way he could see that happening is if rubbish is burned and the wind blows it into the water. "That's the only way I could conceive it would be affected."