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Saturday, July 30, 2022

Ka‘ū News Briefs, Saturday, July 30, 2022

Casual strolling, vendor booths and entertainment on the grounds of Kilauea Lodge, one of numerous
venues during Experience Volcano Festival, which continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Photo from Kilauea Lodge

EXPERIENCE VOLCANO CAME BACK LIVE on Saturday, the first major festival in the Kaʻū-Volcano area to come out of the pandemic with people gathering. Festival manager Jesse Tunison described it as bringing a "great sense of normalcy, a very relaxed atmosphere with lots of happy people." He said he met people who planned their trip to Volcano around the festival and noted that vendors were also thrilled to come back. The festival is in its third year.  
    Experience Volcano continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Festival goers can be stamped to qualify for prizes from many participants. The free festival features food, music, arts, educational presentations and more at many venues from Volcano Winery through Volcano Village and into Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park to Atkasuka Orchid Gardens. See more with maps and schedules at www.experiencevolcano.com.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see www.facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at wwwkaucalendar.com. See upcoming events at https://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2022/04/upcoming-events-for-kau-and-volcano.htm

EPA WILL CONSIDER NEW OPTIONS for solving the sewage problem in Pāhala and Nā‘ālehu where illegal gang cesspools are still in operation, handed over to the county by the old sugar plantations.
    The EPA recently signed an Administrative Order on Consent with County of Hawaiʻi to give it time to study and present options, including the possibility of using individual wastewater systems, instead of the earlier lagoon style wastewater treatment systems planned under the county's previous administration. The lagoon plan was the source of some community opposition and the cost, according to the county, could have been as high as $400,000 per hookup "and unacceptable."
      The EPA posted the agreement with the county to consider new options and is asking for community input. See https://www.epa.gov/uic/closure-cesspools-pahala-and-naalehu-administrative-order-consent-county-hawaii.
    Ramzi Mansour, Director of county Department of Environmental Management, made a presentation to the county's Environmental Management Commission this week, and noted that the new options would save the county many millions of dollars. He said the idea supported by his agency is to look at individual wastewater systems versus the packaged units. Later in the meeting Mansour noted that inflation is making cost of infrastructure across the island very expensive.
    Mansour thanked community members who brought options to the county, "Definitely Sandra (Demoruelle) from Nā‘ālehu; she played a major role in working with us. I appreciate her involvement. We listened to the comments." More community meetings will be planned. "Hopefully we are now on the right track with the community," said Mansour.
    Commissioner Lee McIntosh, of Nā‘ālehu, asked how the county would handle anyone who wouldn't go along with installation of the new sewage treatment system, and also asked what happens to abandoned properties?
Ramzi Mansour, Director of
Environmental Management

    Mansour said it will be a legal requirement to comply. He said the two communities of Nā‘ālehu and Pāhala are lucky that individuals will not have to pay for the new system, but legal action with be taken against the individual who refuses to connect and cooperate with the County. An abandoned property would also have to have access to the new system. Mansour emphasized that the new, free sewage systems will only be available to those currently on the old plantation system where the EPA is requiring the county to shut down the cesspools.
    Mansour said he wanted to give kudos to Mayor Mitch Roth for making wastewater one of his top priorities. He said that in the last year and a half, there have been accomplishments that had not been done in the last 20 or 30 years. "It is important. It is not easy to appreciate things underground, as well as appreciate parks and highways and bridges. People can't visualize them. Sometimes when you deal with sewers under the roadways, people don't see the value but environmentally it has a high value and we need to keep that in mind as we move forward."
    Mansour formerly worked with City and County of Honolulu in as chief of wastewater treatment and disposal, managing and directing operations and maintenance of nine wastewater treatment plants. His deputy is Brenda Iokepa-Moses, of Pāhala.

The EPA has agreed to allow County of Hawaiʻi to study and present alternatives to wastewater treatment plans that would
 have taken the sewage from old sugar plantation neighborhoods to large wastewater treatment sites. This image is from an
 earlier plan for Nā‘ālehu that would have taken the sewage under Highway 11. Image from Hawai'i County

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see www.facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at wwwkaucalendar.com. See upcoming events at https://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2022/04/upcoming-events-for-kau-and-volcano.htm

JEANNE KAPELA WHO IS RUNNING TO HOLD A SEAT IN THE STATE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES to represent all of Kaʻū has provided answers to some of the questions asked of her by Civil Beat, the non-profit news service.
     Kapela distributed the following Civil Beat questions and her answers via email on Saturday:
    What is the biggest issue facing your district? 
    Local farmers are the heartbeat of West Hawai'i. Our farmers grow some of Hawaiʻi's most iconic agricultural treasures, including Kona and Kaʻū coffee and macadamia nuts. Yet, the looming threat of climate change threatens to undermine food security for our community and wreak havoc on our farmland. To combat climate change, I believe we need to establish a Green New Deal for Hawaiʻi that uplifts workers' prosperity and the well-being of our planet.
    I will also fight to protect the Kona name from commercial exploitation by expanding coffee labeling requirements to include ready-to-drink beverages, requiring coffee blenders to disclose the geographic origins by weight of each origin that their blends contain, and increasing the minimum percentage of coffee that is required to advertise a coffee product as being from a specific place (like Kona or Kaʻū) to at least 51 percent.
    Regenerative agriculture provides a pathway toward food security and climate resilience. Instead of investing in agribusiness exports and industrial operations that poison our land with pesticides, we should support small and indigenous farmers who restore the land and feed the communities in which they live.
   Many people have talked about diversifying the local economy for many years now, and yet Hawaiʻi is still heavily reliant on tourism. What, if anything, should be done differently about tourism and the economy?
Rep. Jeanne Kapela released this photo and segments from her
Civil Beat questionnaire. Photo from Kapela
    Diversification is critical to the long-term health of Hawaiʻi's economy. We cannot continue to rely on an unsustainable model of tourism and we cannot continue to allow unchecked numbers of tourists to flood our shores at the expense of residents and our ʻāina.
    I support the establishment of green fees for visitors to the islands, which can be used to increase funding for Hawaiʻi's conservation and sustainability programs. New Zealand, the Galapagos Islands, the Maldives, Cancun and Venice all have green fee programs for visitors ranging from $1 to $100. New Zealand spends $188 per tourist on environmental programs. Hawaiʻi spends just $9 per tourist. We need to catch up.
    Additionally, we need to seriously consider reinstating carrying capacity limits for each island to prevent our visitor industry from damaging our communities and our environment. Finally, we should establish a task force to create a plan to diversify our economy through sustainable industries, like regenerative agriculture and clean energy. This would create a strategic framework to guide state policy, as is the case with our state's sustainability plan.
    An estimated 60 percent of Hawaiʻi residents are struggling to get by, a problem that reaches far beyond low income and into the middle class, which is disappearing. What ideas do you have to help the middle class and working families who are finding it hard to continue to live here?
    We need to put people's needs before corporate greed. We can make Hawaiʻi more affordable by investing in truly affordable housing for those earning less than 60 percent of area median income. Instead of giving tax breaks to developers, we should fund housing projects that are overseen by nonprofit organizations, which are not driven by shareholder profits.
    I also support linking Hawaiʻi's minimum wage to our cost of living. That way, low-wage workers will receive pay increases that keep up with inflation, rather than having their compensation determined by politics. I believe that we need to establish paid family and sick leave programs for all workers. No one should have to choose between earning their paychecks and protecting their health.
    Moreover, we must deliver tax fairness for working families. We should raise the food and renters' credits for low-income households and create a state child tax credit, which we can pay for by closing corporate tax loopholes, increasing income and capital gains taxes for the wealthy, and raising the TAT. Finally, we should make it unlawful for gas companies to engage in price gouging, so that working families aren't being exploited by the oil industry.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see www.facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at wwwkaucalendar.com. See upcoming events at https://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2022/04/upcoming-events-for-kau-and-volcano.htm