Published in The Maui News, November 15, 2015
By GLADYS C. BAISA, for The Maui News
On Nov. 4, the Maui County Council’s Water Resources Committee received a presentation from Barry Usagawa, an engineer with the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, on Oahu’s water master plan.
I believe in learning from our sister counties. All four Hawaii counties share the challenge of meeting the water-supply needs of an increasing population in a cost-efficient and environmentally sound manner.
Usagawa explained his agency’s 30-year master plan, which is based on the following planning principles established by the Board of Water Supply:
- Operate within sustainable yields.
- Move water from where it is to where it is needed. Take only what is needed without causing harm. Don’t waste it.
- Develop new groundwater sources for growth and reliability.
- Plan for sufficient water for agricultural uses.
- Diversify supply to address uncertainty.
- Monitor trends and adjust as necessary.
He emphasized that water-resource planning must be consistent with land-use planning and that watershed protection is imperative. Usagawa’s message of balancing today’s needs with long-term obligations rang true for me and my colleagues.
In an era of intractable challenges, including those posed by climate change and disagreements on the proper structure for fair water rates, the Water Resources Committee is committed to a collaborative, fact-driven policy debate.
On Wednesday at 9 a.m., the committee will receive presentations from representatives of watershed partnership protection programs. Invited agencies and organizations include the East Maui Watershed Partnership, Pu’u Kukui Watershed Preserve, Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership, West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership and Hawaii Agricultural Research Center.
- The East Maui Watershed Partnership protects native forests and species while also educating the community about conservation (www.eastmauiwatershed.org).
- Pu’u Kukui Watershed Preserve protects the health and safety of the natural watershed that most of West Maui relies on (www.puukukui.org).
- Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership restores dryland forests on Haleakala from Makawao through Ulupalakua to Kaupo (www.lhwrp.org).
- West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership protects Hawaiian forests (www.westmauiwatershed.org).
- Hawaii Agricultural Resource Center researches and applies science and technology to water issues (www.harc-hspa.com).
In addition to conservation efforts, there has been community concern about escalating coqui frog infestation. So I look forward to receiving an update on their needs and learning about ways the council can continue to be supportive.
Testimony may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, referencing WR-7.
A hui hou.
* Gladys Baisa holds the council seat for the Upcountry Maui residency area. She is the chair of the Water Resources Committee. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Visit mauicounty.us for more information.