Grass-roots organizing can prevail against government

In October 2017, Michael Miyamoto, deputy director of the Maui County Department of Environmental Management, announced that construction of a 1 million-gallon treated wastewater tank would begin in 2018. It would be located on Puukolii adjacent to Kaanapali Hillside above the resort. The entire neighborhood has been fighting against the tank location for over two years.

In articles published in multiple Maui news outlets, it was announced that Maui County had lost in the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in their quest to keep injecting treated water into wells located in the ocean. Part of the article stated that the department would now make use of an existing reservoir and pipeline to move the treated water to 800 feet altitude for irrigation purposes. Although not stated, it appears that the Puukolii tank will not be built.

This begs the question: Why wasn’t the existing reservoir considered instead of proposing a new tank at considerable cost for land acquisition, pipes and the tank? The way the department people conducted themselves at a community meeting indicates it was either mother knows best and/or hubris.

The Kaanapali neighbors organized and fought this project. It shows that grass-roots organizing can fight and win against government.

Mike Sowers