Email us your submissions!

The address to send in content suggestions is:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

SeaHawaii Fish Feeding Tour

from YouTube: "SeaHawaii dolphin tour includes feeding Hawaii's tropical fish in the open blue ocean."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

EcoHero Nomination: Mayor Charmaine Tavares and Everett Dowling

Ecoheroes Nomination – Mayor Charmaine Tavares and Everett Dowling for Envisioning Sustainable Wastewater Management. It has been said that politics makes strange bedfellows. So do good ideas. One good idea that we can all support is the future of Maui’s wastewater management that was envisioned by Mayor Charmaine Tavares and developer Everett Dowling on Friday May 22. 2009. The vision is sustainable wastewater management powered by solar energy with 100% reuse of treated effluents. The occasion was the Blessing Ceremony for the photovoltaic system at the Makena Resort Wastewater Reclamation Facility. Phase I produces 150,000 kWH annually offsetting 50% of the facility’s energy usage. With the addition of Phase II, the facility will be net-zero energy. Over 25 years, the photovoltaic system will save 4,400 barrels of oil and offset 5600 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Unlike other wastewater treatment plants in Maui County, Makena Resort does not inject its effluent into the ground. Instead the treated effluents are mixed with brackish water and used to irrigate the resort golf course. (Information provided by The Dowling Company) The County of Maui currently operates three large wastewater treatment plants that inject treated effluent into the ground water. From 1997 to 2008, the plants at Kahului, Kihei, and Lahaina injected an estimated combined total of more than 51 billion gallons of wastewater into the groundwater. (Data provided by Steve Parabicoli, County of Maui water reuse coordinator). Although these effluents are treated, there is mounting evidence of environmental damage to the nearshore environment due to the pollution load in the wastewater. ( A group of South Maui residents, concerned about pollution in waters off Kihei, is going to court to try to stop Maui County from injecting wastewater effluent from its sewage treatment plant into the ground ( A recent EPA proposal to renew an Underground Injection Control (UIC) permit for the Lahaina Wastewater Treatment Plant resulted in wide-spread opposition and a call for effluent reuse from a diverse cross section of the community including resource managers, research scientists, environmental advocates, fishermen, cultural practitioners, students, and members of the general public. A revised draft permit is currently available for public review and comment (, with stricter limits than originally proposed for injectate volume, mass of nitrogen and concentration of bacteria. At the blessing of the Makena Resort Wastewater Reclamation photovoltaic system, Mayor Tavares delighted injection well opponents and wastewater reuse proponents alike with her announcement of Maui County’s goal to achieve 100% reuse of effluent and elimination of injection wells for wastewater disposal. In the past, the major stumbling block for water reuse has been funding for the needed upgrades to wastewater treatment, storage, and distribution lines. Reuse has not taken priority in the County’s limited wastewater management budget. Because electricity for wastewater management is the largest line item in the County’s budget (more than $200 million per year), the photovoltaic technology being demonstrated at Makena by The Dowling Company offers a light of hope at the end of the wastewater tunnel. If County of Maui wastewater treatment plants can be powered by solar energy, the resulting savings can be used to develop improved treatment and water reuse systems. This is an economic and environmental win-win that:§ Saves money in wastewater treatment operations§ Reduces reliance on oil to produce electricity;§ Uses US technology and local resources, keeping dollars in the US rather than foreign economies§ Reduces carbon footprint and accompanying global climate impacts§ Reduces potable water use for irrigation§ Reduces injection of treated sewage effluent into fragile marine environments Funding of photovoltaic and water reuse infrastructure could be achieved by a combination of private investment, and stimulus package funding through public programs such as the State Revolving Loan Fund. According to the Water Environment Federation (This Week in Washington May 15, 2009), the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved legislation May 14 that would authorize $38.5 billion over five years for state clean water and drinking water revolving funds and other programs to repair infrastructure and improve water quality. In addition, the bill includes $45 million over five years for EPA's WaterSense program, a voluntary water conservation program similar to the agency's Energy Star program. It also would authorize $250 million for watershed improvements and $50 million for a nationwide grant program to address agriculture-related water quality issues. The legislation includes incentives for green infrastructure projects and to help low-income communities. A research and incentive program would promote water conservation, efficiency, and recycling.Photovoltaic systems can be funded through private investment and tax incentives. The Nature Conservancy recently funded a photovoltaic project through a Power Purchase Agreement in which the cost of the system was capitalized up front by a private investor and will be paid over time by the Conservancy as the user. The group will buy the power generated by the renewable energy system at a reduced rate below current utility pricing. The agreement structures the tax incentive provided by the state and federal governments to encourage users to install photovoltaic systems, to enable the investor to take the tax credit and thereby reduce the cost to the non-profit which otherwise could not use the tax credit. ( has a unique opportunity to develop truly sustainable wastewater management program that conserves energy, taxpayer dollars, and potable water; provides local employment and economic benefit; and protects the marine environment that is the basis of the Hawaiian way of life.
Submitted by Robin Knox, Water Quality Consulting, Inc. & Aquanimity NOW

Monday, May 18, 2009

Needless Urchin Deaths

Hello Ecotube Team:
I wanted to call attention to a deadly practice that occurs on some of the large snorkel boats. After bringing urchins and other animals onboard to show customers the urchins are being tossed overboard. They land in areas of open sand where urchins are never naturally found, many of them upside-down, to die what we can only imagine from our own life experience, to be a stressful and painful death.
Attached are some not-very-good photos of the results of this practice. The first photo is of an urchin upside-down in the middle of open sand. The second is what that urchin looks like after several days upside-down. Although it is still alive, the spines and tissue are gone from the top of the urchin. The 3rd photo shows what happens to most because no one is there to rescue them. This is not limited to collector urchins. Red pencil urchins are also used, as in photo 4. I guess urchins are considered throw away animals.
Haloa Point is where I have seen this the most. In some areas there are many urchins or urchins skeletons in various stages of decline scattered across the bottom. It is sickening.
How can we get the word out to these boats that this is not acceptable?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Is it true?

Check out this link, a Letter to the Editor from Maui News: "Is state park releasing waste into Iao Stream?"

Anyone have time and interest to go check this out and document it?

Update 5/22: Katie Velasquez went to check out the situation but couldn't find anything to document,
and Robin Knox followed up with Maui's Department of Health representative.... Here is his response:

"I checked with the Wastewater engineer and he found that Kepaniwai Park has a septic system. The County upgraded the wastewater system from the old cesspool. The Iao State Park is still using a cesspool for wastewater disposal. The Wastewater Branch of the Dept. Of Health has approved plans to upgrade the existing system to a septic system. The plans were approved in 2005, but the change has not yet been implemented.
Hope this helps."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Positive Environmental Hero of the Month

ANNOUNCING Hawaii Ecotube's first (ongoing) Contest
Let 'em know you're proud by submitting photos or video of an individual or group doing their part and making Hawaii (in particular Maui) a better environment. Be it trash pick-up, passing on useful/truthful information, community work event, etc. - let us and the rest of the Hawaii Ecotube public know and we will highlight them here as the Positive Environmental Hero of the Month.