Thursday, October 28, 2010

Musings: Water and a Smile

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?

If only....


Anonymous said...

Looks like the replacements are all getting along.

Anonymous said...

“We need to develop this peripheral vision and take a comprehensive look at these water systems,” Ornellas said.

Kauai = 90% imported food
KIUC = 90% imported oil
no water = no local food
no local food = no sustainablility
no food = famine
US dollar = soon worthless paper
no gravity flow ag water = dieoff

Anonymous said...

Not until we've eaten each other...

Dewey said...

Hawaiians diverted water at every opportunity to help expand food production(agriculture) for survival. The needs of our people now are similar.

Reservoirs can help to protect reefs and fishes from excess silt from storm surges by capturing floodwater. Capturing storm surges also reduces the erosion of our soil, our aina. I am not aware of any diversions on Kauai that took all of the stream water from any stream. I like the idea that no more than half of stream flow should be diverted so we can keep stream environments healthy.

In Kilauea, KaLoko reservoir was the major year round source for 5 streams for over 100 years and supported those ecosystems. Reservoirs do help recharge groundwater, fight fires, provide clean hydropower, reduce the need for burning fuel for energy to pump water out of the ground, provide aquaculture and recreation opportunities, and wildlife habitat for endangered waterfowl and fish. Storing surface water keeps more water in the local ecosystems.

Storing excess surface water instead of sending it into the ocean is using a renewable resource wisely. If we want all of our streams to be at 100% then all of us including the Hawaiians should move away from the islands and we would still be using water somewhere else. Water is the basis of civilization and can be used wisely while maintaining ecosystems. Without water storage and agriculture, we would have to become hunter gatherers which was not very ecologically sustainable.

Saving water and growing food is wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Well said!

Anonymous said...

It's basic. Clean air, clean water, arable land. And democracy.

Larry said...

Perhaps not so applicable on Kauai, but certainly here on overdeveloped Oahu --

We develop, then the city takes the runoff of rainwater into storm drains and dumps it into the sea. It would normally go into the streams and ground water.

States like New York and Georgia have mandated that new developments make use of porous asphalt and porous concrete technologies, so that the rainwater and storm water go directly into the ground. There are some videos on the web showing a garden hose running on the asphalt, forming a small puddle, and then the water disappears through the asphalt into the ground.

As usual, we are disconnected from the technology that could help mitigate the problems we are causing with development.

Anonymous said...

why no 'locals' in the pictured set of replacement candidates? like say a chicken or three???