If you're interested in water issues as they pertain to dams and reservoirs — Kauai has more than any other island — you may want to check out an article I just wrote for Honolulu Weekly.
Unfortunately, due to deadline and space constraints, I wasn't able to get in a few additional comments, but they raise good points, so I'll print them here:
From Dr. Carl Berg:
"I think it is very important that in-stream flow standards be set for all natural waters that have been dammed and where water has been impounded. We need to re-establish native stream ecosystems that have been destroyed by plantation-era diversions and dams. Only the natural, native ecosystems can help us restore both traditional uses of these waters and the fish populations in the streams, estuaries, and ocean."
From Kapua Sproat, water law expert and Assistant Professor, Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law, at UH Richardson School of Law:
The need to improve efficiency and ensure that water resources are managed as a public trust resource for the benefit of all -- not just a select few -- goes far beyond reservoirs.
For years now, community members have advocated comprehensively assessing our ground and surface water resources and infrastructure, including water taken by old systems that aren’t being adequately maintained. Much of our surface water infrastructure was engineered and constructed for plantations in the 1800s or early 1900s, totally dewatering streams for private use despite significant negative impacts on natural resources and other public rights. In 2010, we can do better; we have the technological capacity and the social responsibility to do more with less. The time is now for water managers, including the State Water Commission, to comprehensively address these issues and uphold the public trust (which is also the law) by restoring streams and ordering current owners to make plantation systems more efficient. Without better planning, management, and improved efficiency, these important issues will be resolved through litigation.
Agricultural interests are always complaining that the public needs to pitch in by subsidizing the operation and repair of antiquated private systems. The public has been subsidizing plantation systems all along by allowing private interests to use these public trust resources for their private commercial gain -- often with no compensation or payment to the public.
From Rep. Mina Morita:
Should the State take a comprehensive look at water distribution and storage systems? Yes, if we are serious about energy and food security efficient water storage and distribution systems are critical infrastructure necessary for agriculture. With limited resources available we need to identify the systems that best promote the public policies that support energy and food security.
And just to lighten things up on the campaign trail, a friend sent this photo, entitled "Team Work," with the message:
The new candidates to replace the incumbents?