Monday, September 21, 2015

Musings: Dead in the Water

As some folks continue to speculate on possible health risks associated with local ag pesticides, virtually nothing is said about documented public health problems in the Islands, including leptospirosis.

This bacterial disease, transmitted via the urine and feces of rats, wild pigs, goats and other mammals, is present in fresh water throughout the Islands, as well as taro loi. A new study, published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, found the disease affects as many as 1 million people globally, killing nearly 60,000.

And that data is based only on the most severe cases, which account for less than a fifth of all infections, study authors say. Lepto data is sparse overall, with many cases unconfirmed.

I've often wondered how many kayakers and hikers return home feeling lousy due to lepto exposure in waterfalls and streams, where they're often taken on guided tours.

Meanwhile, as environmental activists embrace tourism over agriculture in Hawaii, and treat research like a dirty word, developing island nations are being warned away from tourism and into research. As SciDev.Net reports:

A study released in advance of the UN summit on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) this month argues that far too many small island developing states are focusing their economies on areas that will prove unprofitable in the long term, as the industry is prone to natural disasters and changes in trends. Its author, Carlisle Richardson, an economics affairs officer at the UN, says tourism is a volatile sector that does not generate enough income to ensure economic prosperity.

[M]ore home-grown research and technological innovation can give poorer island nations a competitive advantage while also preparing them for challenges brought about by things such as climate change, demographic change and industrialisation.

In Hawaii, where there's no real heavy industry, efforts to conduct agriculture on a viable scale, using modern technology, are invariably denounced as “industrial.” Locally, we've seen that term used to disparage the proposed dairy at Mahauelepu. Though opponents have played upon the fear of odor and water pollution, there's another reason for their rejection: wresting water away from ag.

The petition that Friends of Mahauelepu (FOM) and Sierra Club — Surfrider claims it had no part, despite assertions by FOM and The Garden Island to the contrary — presented to Gov. Ige last week states unequivocally, and before the EIS is even pau:

HDF [Hawaii Dairy Farms] must not be permitted to operate a dairy at Maha’ulepu.”

It also includes this revealing tidbit:

Grove Farm is leasing the proposed site to HDF and has promised the dairy 3 million gallons of water per day, as a term of the lease, from the Waita Reservoir.  The waters of the Waita, the largest reservoir in the State, are collected via the Huleia river diversion, a 1957 sugar cane diversion created for cane irrigation. Once the State Waters ceased to be used for the Koloa Sugar Plantation [actually, it was McBryde] after its closure in 1996, the Waita Reservoir captured the diverted river and stream waters.

We, the undersigned, call on you and all government officials to protect and preserve these waters pursuant to Article 11 of the Hawaii State Constitution and the Public Trust Doctrine.  It is our position that these waters do not belong to Grove Farm, as recently decided by the Hawaii State Supreme Court.

For starters, Waita has been capturing surface waters since well before 1957. Waita reservoir was created between 1903 and 1906, and originally supplied with the Wilcox Ditch, first dug in 1869. The Koloa ditch was constructed in 1915, delivering water from the Wai'ahi and Ku'ia areas to the reservoir. Both ditch systems were replaced with the Ku'ia-Waita tunnel, built from 1960-65.

According to an agricultural land assessment submitted to the state Land Use Commission in 2012, Waita reservoir currently serves some 3,700 acres of ag land, either through irrigation or as a source for livestock water. It's also leased by Kauai ATV for commercial fishing and kayaking tours. It's not just supplying the dairy.

Of course Grove Farm does not own water — no one owns water in Hawaii — but it does have a permit to divert it. Indeed, that acreage was designated Important Ag Land in large part because it has Waita reservoir. Does anyone seriously believe that particular resource will be abandoned, and the diverted streams restored? 

Or are they hoping to divert the water into urban and resort uses?

And why is it OK to divert millions of gallons of water a day, via pumping, to the hotels — none of them locally owned — but not OK for farmers to use diverted water for agricultural production?

Sounds like the old ploy: Get rid of the buffalo and you get rid of the Indians; stop the water and you stop farming.

Is it any wonder, considering how much more lucrative hotels can be? Well, so long as there's no natural disaster, economic hiccup, airline strike or other industry disruption.  Reflect for a moment on this newly released state report that estimates the 2104 farm gate value of Hawaii's vegetable and melon crops at a measly $39.8 million. Compare that to the $11.4 billion in visitor spending and $1 billion in tax revenues generated by tourism.

Though the anti-GMO crowd keeps calling for more local food production, we're not making any headway — in part because the movement is based on rhetoric, rather than action. Land under cultivation in veggie and melon crops dropped from 5,565 acres in 2013 to 5,095 in 2014. And that can't be blamed on the seed companies.

Still, as the report shows, there were a few bright spots:

Most vegetables showed a decrease in production compared to the revised figures for the previous year. However, kale showed an increase in production of 186% from the previous year to 630,000 pounds, while head lettuce showed a 95% increase in production to 1.25 million pounds.

But man cannot live on kale and lettuce alone.

And without reservoirs and irrigation systems, Hawaii ag is pretty much dead in the water. We're playing for high stakes here.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Joan. You pull away the heavy curtains of distraction and obfuscation so we can see more clearly.

Anonymous said...

I can't live on kale at all, what ever that weed is.

Anonymous said...

I believe your article refers to the Hule`ia River diversion as being created in 1957, not the Waita Reservoir. You date many ditches, but not the Hule`ia diversion that is being referred to. Makes no sense.

After sugar went pau, all water leases were supposed to be re-negotiated. Diversions must state the purpose of the water diverted (what kind crop), and the quantity needed. Cattle take way less water than sugar. Furrow flooding cane lands took massive amounts of water. More water is being diverted from the Huleia now. Why?

It's not about "wrestling water away from ag" as you state, it's about truthful reporting of water need and use. Do you think it's OK to use surface flow water in ditches, which was intended for agriculture, for all the new Puhi shopping center and subdivisions? Ag water being sold to cruise ships? Is tubing the flume a viable agricultural public use? Is the water for growing bio-diesel trees displacing water and land that would have been used to grow food?

You have confused and layered many issues.
What is your source that "environmental activists embrace tourism over agriculture"? Replacing agriculture with tourism is unconsionable as well as you making that assumption.

So what's the lepto conrol plan for the dairy? Vaccines? Antibiotics?

Joan Conrow said...

The Ku'ia-Waita tunnel is what some (Don Heacock) call the Huleia diversion.

What is your source that more water is being diverted from Huleia now than during sugar?

As for my source that enviros are supporting tourism over AG, we see it in their alliance with the Hyatt against the dairy and their claim that seed crops shod be booted because they're bad for tourism, among other examples. If you agree tourism is an unconscionable replacement for AG, you'd best chat with FOM, Gary Hooser and the anti-GMO groups, because that's where they're taking us.

With all the current fallow land, no AG uses are displacing food crops. That's a major fallacy. And IAL allows food and/or fuel crops to be grown.

Anonymous said...

So, one group is in alignment with the Hyatt over 1 issue, and you have decided that "enviros are supporting tourism over AG". Wow. Quite a stretch. You have given the Friends of Mahaulepu the right to speak for all the various environmental concerns and groups.

I consider myself an environmentalist; please do not speak for me or align me with any group speak.

Do you think tourism is a new plague?

Joan Conrow said...

No, it's not just FOM and the Hyatt. . Re-read what I wrote and please don't mischaracterize my views. We're speaking generalities here, and the stances of movements and groups. I don't profess to know the mindset of everyone who self-describes as an environmentalist.

Anonymous said...

@1:23 pm - what about all the anti-GMO groups and fanatics who claim that the seed companies doing business on Kauai are going to drive tourism away? Most of these folks - including Gary Hooser - mostly hate tourism and its impacts. But its convenient to hold up the tourism banner when it suits your needs.

Manuahi said...

What bothers me is ever since the Anti's crawled out and made all sorts of unfounded claims about GMOs sowing fear in the minds of the uneducated, everything has become an issue of opinions about what MIGHT happen (fear of the unknown) as opposed to what our centuries of jurisprudence that actually have happened. If the law were like how the Anti's want it, we'd be putting all Muslims in jail along side any person who possesses a gun because they MIGHT kill someone. All of these recent blow ups by the malahini activists are based on their belief that something MIGHT happen rather than any facts or evidence that it has happened or is happening now. This includes the fright fest over the dairy.

Dawson said...

1:23 PM wrote:
Do you think tourism is a new plague?

What do you mean, "new?"

Read Devil's Bargains: Tourism in the Twentieth-Century American West by Hal K. Rothman.

Be warned, it's a rigorously researched, heavily footnoted, 425-page, college level study of what tourism does to places and cultures.

And if you love Kauai it will make you weep.

Anonymous said...

Lepto control for dairy? Control the pig population. That animal has desecrated scared springs in many valleys. Not to mention the streams and watersheds.

BTW Grove Farm has a pig control program in operation.

You are spot on concerning the water for hotels and subdivisions issue.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of environmental hazards, perhaps the person who is killing the chickens might want to share the secret. Just for curiosity's sake, mind you.,

Anonymous said...

Manuwai, I am educated (masters in education) and am wary of gmo foods and the biotech companies' pesticides. Shouldn't we all be? Reading reports, digesting them and not having consensus from scientist on both sides of the issue should make one cautious. By the way, who do you consider as uneducated? Regarding the dairy---i figure that the people who want the dairy somewhere else are the ones who did research and came up with reasons for their concerns. They are very educated and have a strong sense of who they are. I am sure if we educated the "uneducated" about the pros and cons regarding gmo foods, the pesticides used by the biotech companies, they too would question their choices. I learned that the energy drinks on the market have synthetic caffeine in them---created and manufactured by Monsanto. The caffeine is very different from the natural caffeine---be cautious for your children. Read up on this----it may surprise you! Aloha, eat well, keep healthy!

Anonymous said...

First, you may have a masters in education, but clearly not chemistry. If it was "very different" from natural caffeine, then it would not be caffeine...whether or not it was made by Monsanto.

Second, you sound "fearful" rather than "wary". That's fine but fear is not a good basis for rational policy making.

Third, scientific consensus is not achieved by having scientists on "both sides of the issue" (whatever that means) come to an agreement. Rather, it is about the scientific community agreeing on a body of facts and interpretation of those facts. With regards to the use of genetic engineering in agriculture, almost 90% of scientists see no health or safety issue (the percentage is even higher for those with a degree in the biological sciences). Thus, your fear of "gmo" foods is the intellectual outlier.

Anonymous said...

I do not have a Masters in Education, thank the angels. I can't think of anything more useless and that case is made by the comments of 8:44. So, to answer the question posed by 8:44 ... who (sic) do you consider uneducated?" my list would start with people holding MAEd's who give us their opinions on things they they don't know jack shit about. It really presses hard on tolerance for freedom of speech.

Anonymous said...

So, 6:18 educate us the uneducated! And why you gotta get so mad? Be tolerant---we are not as smart as you are! Why do you think MAEd's opinions mean "jack shit"? Do only your opinions count as meaningful and truthful? I guess if people agree with you than it will be okay!

Anonymous said...

7:48, I could care less about educating you. For better or worse that's your job.
Joan is doing a very good job of penetrating the phony fog laid down by Hooerites, Lukenites and their accolytes in her blog. It's an insult to the effort to educate to have comments like those of the MA Ed creep in. The comments weren't worth a pitcher of wam spit, and strayed from the topic into feelings which are the province of HAPA.

Manuahi said...

Oh great Masters in's Manuahi; not Manuwai. They're two different words the latter being a Maori word. Details are important in most fields. But then to malahini they all look alike.

Anonymous said...

anyways people, I live in Moloaa, and have been smelling manure, or dairy waste, or something foul all day today. Tell me one thing, IF the OLD Moloa Dairy, in a zoned AG land did not work, why will the NEW AND ImpROVED dairy in The Hyatt district will? I AM confused,except 4 the concept of doing the same old thing while expecting different out comes is the meaning of insanity...
Only on Kauai, with our inept council, destroying our aina, did they swallow the pill? Just me, wanting 2 know, what is the reason, for the seeds they sow???? Stop the insanity..... NOW.........

Joan Conrow said...

Yes, you are confused. The Mahaulepu dairy is also planned for AG land. There is no such thing as the "Hyatt district.". It's also a very different design than the Moloaa dairy. But both would have wealthy neighbors doing no ag in the AG district who would be watching their every move and making their lives miserable.

Anonymous said...

ever see the chevron commercial about how humans are the funniest creatures....people go through great lengths to prove a point even if it almost kills them