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County offers resources to help conserve water

By Staff | Dec 6, 2012

WAILUKU – “Water is a limited resource. Everyone needs to take personal responsibility to use water conservatively,” advised Dave Taylor, director of the county Department of Water Supply.

“We should cultivate good water-saving habits and remember the three golden rules of water conservation: reduce, repair, retrofit,” Mayor Alan Arakawa added.

According to an ancient Hawaiian proverb, “By water, all things find life.”

From scientists to developers, elected representatives and all residents, we are all connected to this universal call to protect and preserve our most precious resource.

Stephen B. Gingerich is a Ph.D. research hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey Pacific Islands Water Science Center.

Gingerich and fellow Hydrologyist John A. Engott recently published a study entitled “Groundwater Availability in the Lahaina District, West Maui, Hawai’i.”

He summarized a major conclusion from the analysis supporting the liquid bond.

“From the report, it should be apparent that the aquifer all around West Maui should be treated as a single entity. That is why we worked together with the water department and the private well owners when we did our study and presented our results,” he said.

“All of the water users are sharing the same source of water, and actions by one user may have impacts on all the other users – and will have an impact on the groundwater discharge at the coast. So maybe the message would be that action by any one entity could potentially impact all the users.”

The major West Side water distributors are the County of Maui, Maui Land & Pineapple Co. Inc., Hawaii-American Water Co. (formerly Kaanapali Water Company), West Maui Land and the Olowalu Elua Water Company, Gingerich told the Lahaina News.

The county Department of Water Supply (DWS) is well aware of its charge to preserve the finite resource. Its website is full of recommendations on how to conserve (www.co.maui.hi.us/index.aspx?NID=227).

“Please check around your property for leaks, water your yard less frequently and use low-flow fixtures,” it advises.

The website offers free items to the public, including a “County of Maui Landscape and Gardening Handbook,” a resource for people wanting to save water in the yard.

It gives a wealth of information on xeriscaping, a list of native plants appropriate for each plant zone and other resources.

“The county, through the Department of Water Supply, offers water-saving devices such as low-flow shower heads (1.5 gallons per minute), bathroom faucet aerators (1.0 gpm), kitchen faucet aerators (1.5 gpm), toilet tank bags (it displaces 0.8 gallon per flush), toilet leak detection tablets, five-minute shower timers as well as hose nozzles. These are all free of charge,” Mayor Arakawa added.

“DWS,” the county chief executive continued, “also provides 1.15 gpm pre-rinse spray nozzles to restaurants, cafeterias and other food establishments free of charge. This program is aimed at helping food service establishments save on water and energy.”

Education is a vital part of the county’s conservation program, the mayor noted.

“In order to educate our kids at an early age on the importance of conserving water, DWS holds its Annual Water Conservation Poster Contest. Parents and teachers are very supportive of this project and encourage their students to participate,” Arakawa said.

“DWS promotes water conservation by placing ads in local newspapers, on the radio, and, this year, in collaboration with the Honolulu Board of Water Supply and the Kauai Department of Water Supply, on television,” Arakawa continued.

Additionally, the county has added one more “R” to the conservation mix: Reclamation.

According to Scott Rollins, civil engineer with the Wastewater Reclamation Division, “The county will have more R-1 quality water available in the future. In January 2013, we will start construction on an ultraviolet disinfection upgrade that will make all water processed at the plant R-1 quality and available for reuse (approximately 4,000,000 gallons per day).”

County Councilwoman Elle Cochran is an advocate of developing reclaimed water as a resource.

“As infrastructure (committee) chair, I was able to get several millions of dollars, $4.5 million, I think, for upgrades to our West Maui Wastewater Reclamation Facility (WWFR),” Cochran said.

“This will enable the facility to produce more reclaimed water for neighbors to use. Currently, Kaanapali Golf Course uses most of the reclaimed water the county produces. Properties at North Beach have conditions that mandate they use only reclaimed water for irrigation.

“So, we the county, in partnership with Honua Kai and others, will hopefully be able to phase out the daily use of injection wells by converting all wastewater to R1 standards for optimum use,” Cochran continued.

“The main goal is to reuse a wasted precious resource. This would help to free up potable water, which, in turn, can restore stream flow for Hawaiian cultural practices and restore health to our aquatic ecosystems,” she concluded.