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LETTERS for December 23 issue

By Staff | Dec 23, 2010


Reefs are at the core of the dive and snorkel industry. As these reefs are destroyed by the nitrogen-rich effluent plumes that have been proven to issue onto the reefs from Maui County’s, and private, injection wells, these industries will suffer and eventually perish.

The reason nitrogen from the sewage treatment plants is dangerous to the reef is it stimulates the growth of excessive algae that grows over the coral and smoothers it. The West Maui plant injects about 4,000,000 gallons of R-1 water per day at Honokowai, just on the mauka side of the road. Taken together with the plants in Kahului and Kihei, the county injects 13 to 17 million gallons of “treated wastewater” every day.

The nitrogen-rich effluent surfaces in the near shore water because it is warmer than regular ground water from rain in the mountains. This is because it has been subjected to ambient air temperatures, water heaters and so forth. Freshwater floats on saltwater and warm freshwater, floats on cold freshwater. So the effluent rises to the top of the freshwater lens and becomes part of the first freshwater to enter the ocean water just off the beach.

At Airport Beach, Kahekili, where the 4,000,000-gallon per day plume surfaces, some of the vents, called seeps, surface within 50 feet of the beach in less than 4 feet of water. This is where the reef starts. Therefore, the nitrogen level is increased, virtually from the shoreline out. As currents sweep through the area, the nitrogen-rich effluent mixes with the ocean water and gradually becomes insignificant somewhere offshore. However, because of the relatively continual discharge of the effluent, the nitrogen levels remain high in the near shore area of the plume, on the reef.

There are a number of possible solutions. Here, in brief, are three:

1) If the R1 water were to be piped offshore into deep water, the warm freshwater would rise through the water column and be diluted by ocean water as it is carried away by the currents; it would no longer affect the reefs or the economy.

2) The group DIRE (Don’t Inject Redirect) advocates the reuse of the reclaimed water for irrigation. This is an attractive solution considering our chronic shortage of freshwater here on Maui. One million gallons of Lahaina effluent is currently used on golf courses in Kaanapali. Water used for irrigation of golf course or parks is sterilized with UV light. Given the chronic and growing shortage of potable water on Maui, this is an attractive alternative. This type of reuse is a great idea, as long as the particular use does not create more pollution and thus create a vicious cycle.

3) It is also possible to use wetlands to get rid of the nitrogen in the effluent. Again, this is not straightforward but can be done to good effect without destroying the wetlands.

There are other potential threats to the reef: over fishing, pesticides, fertilizers and more. But the fact is, we know the increased nitrogen levels are from human sewage, and that these nitrogen levels are elevated in the near shore waters in close proximity to injection wells, both public and private, and nowhere else on the island. We know this because of two separate studies.

The State of Hawaii has established a ban on fishing for herbivores, limu or algae eaters, in the area affected by the Lahaina plant’s effluent from Black Rock to the south end of Honokowai Park. The hope is the fish populations will recover and slow the destruction of this reef by eating some of the excess algae, which is smothering the reef, stimulated by the high nitrogen levels from the reclaimed water.



We are being told that there is no inflation. However, everyday things we buy are in smaller packages, and the price is higher.

But then higher prices mean that we can’t afford to buy things.

The less we are able to buy, the more we go without.

It’s one way to go on a diet.



China is, far and away, the fastest developing industrialized nation in the world. They continually reinvest in their infrastructure and they are at war with NO ONE. The U.S. is in two wars, has troops in 50 countries and is moving toward bankruptcy and no more world dominance.

Why is violence and bullying increasing among our teenagers? Their video games and movies concentrate upon destruction. Violence begets violence.

The most erroneously used word in TV news and the print media is PODIUM. What the president stands behind to give his speeches is a LECTERN. If he stands on a raised platform, that is a podium. “Pod,” for foot; thus, a podiatrist is a foot doctor.

JIM LYTLE, Lahaina


Well, the Democrats are finally showing some fight. They’re fighting with each other, but it’s a start.

The fading Democratic majority in the House has balked at accepting President Barack Obama’s compromise with Republicans on the Bush tax cuts, which are set to expire with the New Year.

That’s the deal where Republicans get enormous tax cuts for the rich and the president gets a bag full of brightly colored beans.

In it, people with a lot of money get enough to build additions to their Caribbean vacation homes (unless their Aspen retreats need expansion), while the laid-off auto worker in danger of losing his one-and-only home to foreclosure gets enough to put food on the table for his family for a few more months.

House Democrats, offered that trade, said, “No thank you very much.”

I keep getting the feeling that none of this would be happening if Barack Obama were alive today.

I don’t mean the sad-faced fellow with the same name you see on television these days — the one with the “Kick Me” sign on his back. I mean the Obama of the campaign trail — the inspirational figure who promised us “Change we can believe in!” That Obama.

He’s gone, replaced by a guy who makes Jimmy Carter look like Vince Lombardi.

The real joke about the tax “compromise” is that the president insisted that the extension of the tax cuts last only two years. Apparently he feels that things will look better for him politically two years from now and that Congress will be able to do away with the budget-busting tax cuts then.

My only surprise is that no Republican leader has yet died laughing at that one.

I used to think that President Obama was a shoo-in for reelection in 2012. I based that on the old political axiom, “You can’t beat somebody with nobody.” I reasoned that since the Republicans didn’t really have a “somebody” among their presumptive candidates — and wouldn’t nominate him or her if they did — Obama would prevail.

I’m no longer sure of that. If things go on as they are, Obama could conceivably get beaten by a Candidate to be Named Later.

There are diehard Democrats who think that the president has an ace-in-the-hole: Sarah Palin. Egged on by the lunatic fringe of the party, the Republicans just might nominate the Lady Gaga of the Political Right, which would mean death for them in the election. That’s the theory.

Good theory. But I’m not as convinced of it as I used to be.

Two years after running what many thought was a disastrous vice presidential campaign, Palin remains a star in a political firmament that doesn’t have many.

Put her in a room with Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Bobby Jindal or any of her other probable rivals for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012 — or with all of them at once, for that matter — and your eye (and attention) will go to her. She’s got that movie star thing going for her.

Beyond that, she has a marvelous political instinct for survival. She came out of the train wreck that was the McCain campaign stronger than she went in.

The Republicans will spend the next two years beating Obama about the head and shoulders while he stands in the middle of the road saying, “Let us reason together.”

They’ll do their best to collapse the economy and then blame Democrats for the collapse. After that, they’re going to raise taxes on the rich? I don’t think so.

Am I being too pessimistic? I hope so, but I know this much: A political party that can’t sell the American people on increasing taxes on millionaires when unemployment stands at nearly 10 percent, with a deficit threatening to stifle the nation, is a party that couldn’t sell hand-warmers to a duck-hunting club.

It is, in other words, a pathetic excuse for a political party.



The Republicans are holding everything hostage until they get their precious tax cuts for the rich. Not just don’t-ask-don’t-tell — which, of course, you’d expect of them — but now relief funds for sick 9/11 workers. And everything else. Everything — those babies!

Folks, this is what they do. This is how they think. This is who they are. And this is what Americans voted for? There’s only one word for Republican voters: “Stupidi-Tea.”