(Note: scroll down for 24 photos of our spectacular St. Pat’s benefit)
LAHAINA, Mar. 29–Considering that “people come here for the natural beauty,” Maui is being shortsighted when laws are not followed by developers or enforced by government, a leading “water scientist” told members and guests of the Rotary Club of Lahaina Sunset this week.
The fifth speaker in a Rotary series on the environment, Mark Deakos, executive director of the Hawaii Association for Marine Education and Research, told Rotarians that our reefs are in danger from sediment from the land that is filled with pollutants, herbicides and pesticides that end up in the ocean.
When water filled with sediment from pipes as tall as a man pour into the ocean, it replaces natural sand and clouds up through wave action, preventing light from reaching life nurturing coral.
One of the biggest areas at risk is Olowalu where 370 manrays and other marine animals make their home. Plans for development of Olowalu pose significant danger to the reefs unless proper procedures are followed, Deakos said.d
Water reaches the ocean through literally hundreds of pipes that stretch from Naplii to Lahaina, New technology allows for the continuous measurement of the quality of water over the world wide web if developers are willing to install it, Deako said.
Water gets to the ocean through these pipes or by flowing naturally from the land. Vegetation on the land absorbs moisture and keeps it from the ocean. When there is concrete or no vegetation, water eventually flows downhill to the sea.
Although there are a number of West Maui organizations monitoring water quality and gathering statistics, the state has only one health officer to keep track of water quality and enforce regulations in all of Maui County.
The water scientist pointed out that violation of the Cean Water Act is a criminal offense which provides for penalties of $27,000 a day for violators.
The flow of water in developments is self monitored. A land owner can walk through a property twice a week, observe that everything is ok when it may not be, and then move on., according to the association’s executive director.
To reverse many of these trends, the County of Maui as well as the state must do a much better job enforcing the laws and providing support for proper monitoring. Legisltors need to step up and pay more attention to the need for enforcement, Deakos said.