A Maui businessman said last week that he had abandoned plans to develop a bottled-water plant in Waihee, after some of his investors walked away from the project.
Tony Liserre said he lost the financing he would have needed to purchase the 370-acre and 120-acre parcels of undeveloped land he had hoped to acquire. Earlier this fall, Liserre said he had hoped to build an "aquaponics" facility on the land and use the bottled-water operation as a way to entice investors without developing homes on the property.
He said controversy and "negative PR that was generated by the rumors" about the project scared away some potential investors.
"It's unfortunate, because it really was a good project," he said.
Buzz about Liserre's plans caused a stir earlier this fall when community members speculated about the scale of his water-bottling operation and questioned whether it would involve exporting a scarce resource off-island.
Liserre eventually confirmed he was proposing to develop a 4-acre plant that could bottle up to 220,000 gallons of water per day, but state water officials said permits for wells on the site would likely not allow pumping of that volume.
Liserre said he still hopes to develop his aquaponics project - a system in which water circulates between hydroponic plants and an aquaculture tank for fish or other aquatic life - but has no interest in bottled water any longer.
"I just really want to do my aquaponics," he said.