Thursday, June 5, 2008

Musings: Honoring the Source

I awoke hot and stuffy, which made it clear that the place to begin the day was in the shimmer of the eastside sea. And so Koko and I headed down the hill, away from the mauka clouds to the sunshine of our favorite beach.

The tide had pulled way out, exposing the treasures of the reef, where a lone man with a sack and a stick was hunting tako, and pockets of water, where I wanted to be, that were calm and bottle green.

The sandy beach was broad as it ever gets, smooth and unsullied, until Koko, running wild laps and circles to burn off her bounteous energy, left her small tracks along most of it.

After my swim, which left me cool and refreshed, heart calm and head clear, I recalled standing on this beach about a week ago with a friend, who commented on the sweetness of the water I’d brought from my house.

We figured its source was Makaleha, and in my mind’s eye I saw those jagged peaks and that lush, narrow valley, with its beautiful clean stream where I have numerous times recovered my laughter and joy beneath its cold, rushing torrent.

And then I felt a deep sadness in the place between my heart and solar plexus. I not only could see Makaleha, but feel it, and I knew the stream was gravely diminished.

“It’s starving,” I told my friend, and not just because its water is diverted and the rains have failed to return and replenish, but because we no longer know it, tend it, malama it.

“We just keep taking and taking, giving nothing back, not even our acknowledgement of its existence or appreciation of its gifts,” I told my friend, who agreed.

And it struck me then, and again this morning, that therein lies the failings of our modern material world. We have become so fixated on the results — the goods — that we almost wholly neglect the source of all that is.


Anonymous said...

Very touching, and very true. We take, take, take; we give back little, some give back none. We are trashing our planet. We will pay for this self-indulgent and shortsighted existence. The Earth is our Mother, and Mommy's mad.

Anonymous said...

yes, this post is a lament, but it is also a prayer of appreciation for the life-giving beauty that still remains.


Anonymous said...

Joan - How is the water of Makaleha stream diverted? And how would be tend and malama it?

Anonymous said...

I hate to rain on your parade but the water you're drinking in Kapa'a come from wells, not streams.

Andy Parx said...

Guess you haven’t been here very long Anon 7/7 12:44. Joan is correct.

Makaleha “springs” is where Kapahi gets a lot of it’s water- a few years ago the Water Department wanted to drill new wells up there but community protest over the mess they wanted to make doing it stopped them. Actually I always thought the Olohena area got their water from the Koholalele (it's not Kaholalele- the signs are wrong) water system and tank since it’s all gravity driven and with all those little valleys up by the Ka`inahola/Waipouli Rd area it would seem hard to get the water through there although it may be technically downhill from the end of Kahuna Rd .

That’s why putting surface water into the Lihu`e system was such a hypocritical move since during the Makaleha controversy the Water Dept argued that it just HAD to get all it’s water from wells and springs and then turned around a year or so later and dumped in the river water in Lihu`e to enable all the new hotels and the Grove Farm/Official County Development plan.

Joan Conrow said...

Thanks, Andy, I was just going to set Anonymous straight.

In response to the other Anonymous, water is diverted from Makaleha at several ponts into the irrigation system now managed by the East Kauai Water Users Cooperative.

As for how to malama it, and any other waterway, I would say first it's good for people to just stop and think about where their water comes from. Even if it's from wells, that water all comes from our watersheds, so any activities that support watershed restoration are worthwhile, including removing invasive species, controlling feral animals, preventing fires and regulating development.

We can also work to prevent pollution of streams, support efforts to restore the vegetation that helps keep streams from being silted up and refrain from removing rocks.

It's also important not to plant stuff along streams other than native vegetation, and if you're going to hang out in fresh water, don't be using shampoos, sunscreens and other product that disrupt the aquatic ecosystem.

And whenever you're near a stream, just say a little mahalo, and offer up a prayer of gratitude. Hawaiians did a lot of reverential stuff like that, and I have to believe they did it for a reason.

Mahalo for asking, and for caring.

Andy Parx said...

It certainly would be interesting to see a map or diagram the actual distribution patterns in different neighborhoods from all the actual wells . I wonder if the Water department has such a think- I think I’ll make a request for information if it exists.

Anonymous said...

I think that Joan's water IS from a well. Look at the County's water quality report for the Kapa'a area and you'll see that they say the water is from wells & tunnels. It appears that the only surface water used is what is fed into the Lihue area system. Joan, don't you live in the Kapa'a or Kapahi area?

Here's the link:

Joan Conrow said...

Yes, Anonymous, you are correct that only Lihue is served with treated surface water. However, as Andy noted, Makaleha is tapped with a well.

According to the document link you provided, my water source could very well be Moalepe Tunnel. Now whether it draws from Makaleha or elsewhere, I will have to find out. I'll keep you posted.

Anonymous said...

Joan - A "tunnel" is just that, a tunnel usually dug at about a 45 degree angle down into the aquifer, or water table, where pumps are then setup to suck water up and out into the water system.. So, I think you've been drinking pleasant tasting, naturally filtered ground water. Not quite as picturesque as a stream, but still an amazing natural creation.