Published in The Maui News, June 7, 2015
By MIKE WHITE, for The Maui News
On May 30, I had the great pleasure of attending a ceremony to bless the county’s Waikamoi flume. In a true feat of engineering, the aging redwood flume has been replaced with a new system of noncorrosive materials like aluminum, stainless steel and composites.
For many years, this project has been a top priority for the county, as thousands of gallons of water were lost each day due to major leaks in the redwood. This vital system moves water from several streams within the Koolau Forest Reserve to supply approximately 10,000 Upcountry residents in areas from Kula to Kaniao. With the new flume in place, Upcountry residents can now expect a more steady flow of surface water, especially during drought.
According to contractors, because of the delicate nature of the area and the 7-mile access road to get to the project site, many parts of the flume were flown in by helicopter to complete the project. This project truly represents the county moving in the right direction to provide additional resources to our Upcountry water system.
Despite the progress, I firmly believe much more needs to be done to find additional solutions to chip away at the Upcountry water-meter challenges.
That is why, in the fiscal year 2016 budget, a proposed capital improvement reserve fund is being established and $5 million is being set aside for the sole purpose of increasing capacity for the Upcountry water system. By continually setting funds aside for investment into the Upcountry water system, the county can finally address the long-standing water-meter waiting list.
The recent budget proposal also builds upon the $12.6 million appropriation the County Council made in the fiscal year 2015 budget to also address the Upcountry water-meter situation. Water Resources Committee Chair Gladys Baisa has been working diligently to see that these funds are spent in a timely manner.
The water situation will not be solved overnight, but we must continually take bold steps if our community is ever to see a day when water is no longer a challenge.
On another note, now that summer is upon us, I wanted to remind our community of a few county laws that may be useful to know to ensure a pleasant summertime experience for all.
Tobacco products are prohibited in county beach parks and facilities by Ordinance 4120. This law was enacted last year to promote public health and keep unsightly cigarette butts off our beautiful beaches.
An alcohol ban at Kamaole Beach Park II was enacted in 2014 via Ordinance 4137. Similar prohibitions were previously enacted for Kalama Park, South Maui Community Park, Keopuolani Park, Kamehameha Iki Park and Maluuluolele Park, Honokowai Beach Park, Charley Young Park and Kamaole Beach Parks I and II.
In closing, I invite you to join me in attending a wonderful tradition, the Upcountry Fair celebration, which will be held this coming Saturday and Sunday at the Oskie Rice Arena. It is a great event for the whole family!
* Mike White is chair of the Maui County Council. He holds the council seat for the Paia-Haiku-Makawao residency area. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to mauicounty.us for more information.