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LETTERS for June 11 issue

By Staff | Jun 11, 2015

Use treated wastewater for agriculture

I met a couple of young men in the store that I work at and asked where they were from. When they told me “Las Vegas,” I commented on how they look like “local boys.” They said they were born and raised Hawaiians but had to live on the Mainland because there were no construction jobs available in Hawaii.

I asked if they would consider farming instead of construction. I explained how I was trying to advocate for agriculture in Hawaii. They responded that they would love to come back home to farm, and there are others like them that would return.

Then the burly young man reached over the counter with tears in his eyes and gave me a big hug while he thanked me for giving him hope.

We have a great opportunity to make that happen. It could save Maui County millions of dollars in federal fines that are pending. The Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility was in violation of the Clean Water Act, and sentencing is in August. The comment by the attorney for Earth Justice stated that if the county had an acceptable resolution, they would drop the case.

The following idea would solve the problem. It also would protect the ocean from storm-water runoff related to fallow land. It would ensure that infrastructure precedes development. Do you think it would be nice to have a resolution that would benefit the entire community that was negatively affected by this violation of the county?

The Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility is currently treating the reclaimed water to R1 quality, which is perfect for any agricultural uses. Instead of pumping the water with injection wells – where it ends up in the ocean – it could be pumped up to the existing ditch system and restore the Wahikuli Reservoir to provide agriculture water from Honokowai past Lahaina to Makila.

There are thousands of acres of agriculture land that it would provide a reliable source of water for, including Kaanapali Land Co., Hawaiian Home Lands, state land, Kamehameha Schools and West Maui Land Co. Future developments would provide more agriculture water, which provides more jobs and food security.

I admire the brilliant idea to put in the coffee plantation estates. It provides employment to the locals, a beautiful environment and protects runoff to the reef. The coffee store on Lahainaluna Road provides a gathering place to promote a sense of community.

I am not popular in the developers’ world right now, but I hope to one day see if that same concept could work with affordable housing. The county could allow for higher density cluster housing on agriculture land. Is it possible to provide housing where the monthly payments would be in the $1,600 to $2,200 range? Could it provide the workforce housing necessary to the operation of genuine sustainable farming and other agriculture-related employment?

S.E.E. Farms is working on an agriculture plan to train people how to farm. Their goal is for a self-employed farmer to work 40 hours a week, making $25 an hour. The Lahainaluna High School Boarding Department is revitalizing its Agriculture Program, and the University Annex in Lahaina could provide the education to launch us into the next era. Diversified farming will provide a wide array of employment from farm to table, and jobs in science and technology to make it happen efficiently.

Agriculture will provide a beautiful environment with a balance to offset the current trend to cover everything with concrete. I am not anti-development; I am pro-quality of life. I would like to see us provide truly affordable housing for our local families and those that would like to return home to Hawaii, along with the employment necessary to make that happen.

Please advocate for the reclaimed water of the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility to be used for agriculture. It will revitalize our economy, providing the tax dollars necessary for sensible growth rather than proposing budget cuts of necessary services or raising fees or taxes. Imagine how agriculture will beautify our environment, protect our reefs and provide healthy and nutritious food. Let’s bring our families home to farm and find a way to provide truly affordable housing.



Clean Water Act revisions smart

On May 27, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finalized their proposed Clean Water Act to protect the streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources from pollution and degradation.

The EPA and Army Corps did as promised – they considered more than one million comments they received on the rule, they addressed concerns, and they refined and ultimately improved the rule. We are encouraged by the refinements and clarifications undertaken in this process, and encouraged to see better Clean Water Act enforcement poised to move forward.

Water is life – for people, crops, livestock and wildlife, as well as farms, ranches, business and industry. The revised rule is grounded in both law and science. Nearly one in three Americans get drinking water from streams that lacked clear protection before the Clean Water Rule.

And healthy ecosystems provide more than drinking water – they provide wildlife habitat and places for fishing, swimming and paddling. Clean water is an economic driver for manufacturing, farming, ranching, tourism, recreation and energy production.

Perhaps most importantly, this rule was shaped, and improved, by public input, which will allow the rule to clear the regulatory waters, overcome the shrill hyperbole from organizations more interested in shilling for industry and industrial agriculture than in clean water, and protect the quality of America’s surface waters.

JOHN CRABTREE, Center for Rural Affairs


Colleges must do more for low-income students

Paying for college may soon become easier – especially for low-income students.

President Obama recently issued a Student Aid Bill of Rights that orders the federal government to find ways to help students repay their loans. The presidential directive will also hold those that service federal loans to higher standards.

The Bill of Rights is the latest in the president’s campaign to make college more affordable. But the obstacles low-income students face as they pursue college are not just financial. They also face steeper social, emotional and administrative hurdles than their peers.

Colleges and universities themselves must do more to help young, disadvantaged Americans overcome those hurdles – and thereby secure the full benefits of higher education

A college degree has never been more valuable, particularly for students of modest means. When those born into the lowest economic quintile obtain a degree, they triple their chances of ascending to the top two quintiles.

Unfortunately, institutes of higher learning aren’t reaching folks at the bottom of the income ladder. Only 50 percent of kids from low-income families enroll in college. Even fewer graduate. Just one in four college freshmen from the lower half of the income distribution earns a bachelor’s degree by age 24.

Minorities face a similar graduation gap. Just 40 percent of blacks and 51 percent of Hispanics earn their degree within six years, compared to 62 percent of whites.

The cost of college is one reason why. But there’s more to the story than that. Low-income, minority and first-generation college students – as well as their families – often lack the information and guidance needed to thrive in college.

That’s something that colleges and universities can address through mentoring programs. It won’t eliminate all the challenges that confront low-income and minority students. But they’re making an impact, and these programs can help colleges and universities fulfill their duty to educate America’s best and brightest, advantaged and disadvantaged alike.

TIM HALL, Dobbs Ferry, New York.