Category Archives: Health Department- Water and Waste

Health department issues- greywater and human waste laws and alternative techniques

What is the status of HB111

Dear Ones,

Thanks all for your work with this site.  I was just newly directed to it today by Terra of the Hawaiian Sanctuary.

I have a large parcel of land, 84 acres, near Leilani yet under current laws and because of county water regulations it can have only one home on it.

Will someone(s) please post the status of HB111 since public comment ended on 3/21/2013?

I can find nothing on this site or on the government linked web site?

From over an hour reading articles and posts on your site and the government HB111 pages, it sounds like if HB111 is approved then the 84 acres could be parceled into 15 acre sections to meet the requirement of this Bill.  If this bill has passed the house does it have to go through the senate?  Regulations be written and signed it to law?  How long might this process take?  I know next to nothing of government processes.

Mahalo Nui,

Uncle Chucka



Current Energy & Fuel Issues and Alternatives in Hawaii

This detailed report outlines the issues around the current energy and fuel usages and productions, and presents alternatives in the second half. Very informative! Great reference for the PEIS meetings!

Click here for PDF of Life Of the Land PEIS



Hawai`i Fossil Fuel Impacts

Hawai`i’s Top 3 Dioxin Emitters are all power plants: (1) AES Coal

Plant; (2) HECO’s Kahe Generation Station; and (3) HECO’s Waiau

Generating Station.

Hawai`i’s Top 10 chemical polluters are six electricity generation

stations, two refineries and two military bases: (1) HECO’s Kahe

Generation Station; (2) Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam; (3) Chevron

Refinery: Kapolei; (4) HECO’s Waiau Generating Station; (5) MECO’s

Kahului Generating Station; (6) HELCO’s Hill Generating Station: Hilo;

(7) AES Hawaii: Kapolei; (8) Tesoro Refinery: Kapolei; (9) US Army

Pohakuloa Training Area-Range Facility; and (10) MECO’s Maalaea

Generating Station.


Mayes introduced the concept of “cascading natural deregulation.” As

the cost of renewable systems trends downward and electric rates go

up, those who can leave the grid, will leave the grid.

The fixed costs associated with energy production, transmission, and

distribution will then have to be absorbed by the remaining (smaller)

rate base still on the grid.

Those who remain on the grid will then see their rates go up even

more, which in turn provides ever stronger incentives for more people

to opt out of a centralized grid, driving ever higher the rates for the

diminishing number of ratepayers who remain.



What if Options: Alternative Plans

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) oversees the National

Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). CEQ requires that reasonable

alternatives MUST BE evaluated in Environmental Impact Statement

(EIS) if they are technically and economically possible and based on

common sense.

Life of the Land believes that this EIS offers the opportunities to lay

out alternating future scenarios for evaluation. There is an absolute

need for the PEIS to present a balanced estimation of the positive and

negative consequences of different, reasonable alternatives.

There are a number of game changers that are being discussed in

utility circles, including Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC),

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Wave Energy Conversion Systems

(WECs), Algal Biodiesel, Storage, DC Grids and Self-Generation.


Concerns About Geothermal- a Summary

Concerns about geothermal:

 from Beth McCormick

1) Putting the state’s energy source in a Lava Zone 1 is a recipe for disaster. “The possibility of an eruption in the geothermal resource or state-wide cable path within any 50-year period is between 60 and 90 percent.” [15] The Chain of Craters Road, which has been repeatedly covered by lava, and Royal Gardens Subdivision, where hundreds of homes have been lost to lava flows, are examples of Volcanic Hazard Zone 1.  The effect of an eruption could be severe, if the geothermal well or the undersea cable were buried by lava. The power generated by the geothermal facility would be lost—possibly for months, or even years.  Honolulu could be crippled, if these plans go through and they become dependent on geothermal. [15,18]

2) Economics.  Costs for the undersea cable to take that energy to Oahu are expected to exceed $10 billion (not counting drilling or building the plants themselves.)  That amount of money could put a solar hot water system on every roof in the state.  Hot water takes 39% of the typical household water use, so that would be a sizable reduction in energy use without using geothermal.  Under normal circumstances the geothermal investment would make no sense, but HELCO is a monopoly with a profit legislated by the government. Their financial incentive is the opposite of a normal business, which seeks to do things efficiently.  For HELCO, the more money they spend, the more money they get, since consumers are forced to pay the bill.  This boondoggle will increase the cost of living in Hawaii. [16]  Whether you own land, rent, or just visit Hawaii, you’ll be paying for this foolhardy expense. 


3Toxic emissions.  A mixture of nasty chemicals are released, and the small existing PGV well has produced emissions that exceeded a lethal dose for humans.  There have been 18 civil defense emergencies because of this one small well, and the well blowout in 1991 necessitated evacuating people from their homes.  The industry standard is a buffer zone with a 10 mile radius around a geothermal well.  “There are about 3,900 residential lots within a one-mile radius of the [small existing PGV] plant.” [20] Now they want twenty new geothermal wells here? This will completely change the character of the area from rural to industrial, threatening thousands of properties. 


4) Possibility of a “wild well.”  Since this is an area of constant tremors, it is possible for the well casing to rupture in an earthquake, causing an unrestricted flow of emissions or lava.  The geology here is different from other places where geothermal has been utilized.  Drilling at the small PGV well hit magma several years ago,[3] which came partway up the well shaft, and it’s very easy to imagine the possibility of starting an eruption that would not stop.  This is “by far the shallowest and hottest encounter of rock in a commercial operation.”[14] In 1977 an eruption was triggered in Iceland, when “magma erupted out the top of a producing geothermal well… in Krafla, Iceland.” [31]

Geothermal drilling has created a ‘wild well’ in California, in the Geysers Wild Horse area, “which emits about 306,000 lb./yr. of hydrogen sulfide (8.2% of the Geyser’s total). Efforts to stop these emissions have proven unsuccessful. Uncontrolled blowouts have the potential to vent up to 55,000 lb./hr. of geothermal steam and its pollutants into the surrounding environment.  Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is one of the more notorious toxins resultant from geothermal operations. It and lesser amounts of other sulfuric forms have been broadly disseminated as aerosols across areas surrounding geothermal development, especially along lines of prevailing wind patterns. H2S becomes sulfur dioxide (SO2) through oxidation. Both forms are hazardous to plant and animal life.”[1]


5)  Health effects “Workers at various geothermal facilities have experienced severe health impairing consequences from geothermal emissions exposure. Abnormally high occupational incidences of heart attacks, respiratory ailments, major liver damage, bodily disfigurement, lung scarring, pulmonary disease, high blood pressure, and damage to various internal organs have been reported. Workers have experienced bloody noses, chronic coughs, and other respiratory problems, headaches, stomach ailments, eye irritations, sluggishness, dizziness, vomiting, and a persistent skin rash they’ve named the ‘creeping Geysers crud.’ Doctors, including Dr. Philip Rasonri of Healdsburg, Ca, have concluded the symptoms workers have experienced indicate short-term chemical poisoning… The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal-OSHA), deposits of arsenic and vanadium dust were found after a malfunction in the steam cleaning process. The arsenic tests showed concentrations of 430 ppm – over two times the state’s safety standard. Vanadium, for which test results showed concentrations of 4,200 ppm, had no set safety standard, though it is a known toxin. While cleaning up a chemical spill resulting from the malfunction, twenty-four workers developed nosebleeds, nausea, and other illness symptoms.”[1]


6) Geothermal wells can cause earthquakes. “Discussion needs to be open about how exploitation of Earth’s internal heat can produce earthquakes.” [26] “Studies conducted by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey concluded that geothermal power production induces seismicity. One of the possible means is that re-injection of the spent fluids, which is generally done at a deeper level than the original tapping well, lubricates the different fault line plates as well as altering the pressure upon them, causing them to “slip.” Another theory is that tapping the geothermal reservoirs depletes the pressure built up underground causing the plates to shift. Perhaps both of these factors work synergistically to cause minor quakes of 3.5 to 4.0 on the Richter scale. The Geysers area has experienced quakes of these magnitudes that have been associated with geothermal production. Geothermal production areas in Mammoth Lakes, California have also experienced “swarms” of quakes. Studies are ongoing attempting to further understand the correlation between commercial geothermal energy production and tectonic activity. One indicator has been notable land subsidence in the areas above geothermal reservoirs.” [1,12]


7) Geothermal can poison the groundwater, hence, the ocean.  “Possible stream, ground water, and aquifer contamination are additional environmental problems resulting from geothermal production. Toxic contaminant harms can occur through mishaps in production processes, as well inherent potential due to the complexity of geologic features and production requirements. Reinjection is one danger area wherein potential exists for fluids to enter an underground aquifer. Another is that of well pipeline rupture or other production fluid leakage. Fluids could escape and enter area streams and ground water, poisoning aquatic fauna and area plants. To counter this, the plant at Mammoth Lakes has spill containment basins, dikes, gates and shut off valves. However one fault of all these systems remains the potential for a major quake, which is especially high in these tectonically active areas, occurring sometime with in the projected 30 years use-time of the plant. Speculation remains despite industry assurances to the contrary, that ‘fail safe’ spill prevention systems remain as fragile as glass built upon a herd of sleeping buffalo. The large quantity of fluid flowing through the pipes (at Mammoth it is 300,000 gallons per hour) coupled with the possibility of the structural integrity of the facilities, spill containment ponds, dikes, and gates being compromised by the force of a quake – where these are no longer able to fulfill to their intended function; the potential for ecological disaster is relatively high. Generally the industry operates under the assumption that plant personnel will be able to respond to leaks within minutes. In an

emergency situation this may be very likely prove implausible. If gates are so damaged they cannot shut, and/or dikes are breached, geothermal fluids with all their toxins would flow unabated into surrounding area waterways, soils, and aquifers.”[1]


8)  Geothermal generates toxic waste solids.  “Yet another probability of ground water contamination exists: geothermal sludge. Geothermal sludge is composed of geothermal fluids, oils, and drilling muds; containing sulfur compounds as well as arsenic, other toxins, and heavy metals. Sludge is stored in sumps on the site, which could potentially fail contaminating surrounding streams and ecosystems. Plans to solidify sump contents, becoming part of the soil or subsoil ignore the long-term effects of the release of geothermal sludge’s toxic components through erosion and precipitation.”[1]


9) Shady Land Deal.  “In 1990, plans to construct a major geothermal plant in a Hawaiian rainforest resulted in considerable environmental opposition. The proposed area, near the Puna volcano, has a geothermal fluid H2S content six times that of the Geysers, at 1,300 ppm concentration. The area is one of extreme geological instability. Yet the project was being pushed through by big industry with government help. The unstable nature of the volcanically active area is a cause of significant concern. The area first being considered for geothermal production was inundated by new lava flows following test drilling. The lava covered 25,000 acres destroying former rainforest and burying the original proposed geothermal site. Many of the Hawaiians feel that the volcanic lava flows were triggered by the drilling of geothermal wells. The government response was to “trade” 27,000 acres of public rainforest trust lands to the geothermal development company in exchange for the lava covered devastated lands. The area traded is the ‘last original rainforest within the U.S.’ It was to be held in public trust to protect the native Hawaiian plants and fauna as well for public use. However the public is now forbidden entrance.” [1]


10) Lava tube land weakens well casings, potentially causing leaks.  “Some of the initial Puna test wells had to be suspended when workers tapped into volcanic lava tubes and attempts to plug geothermal leaks through the passages were unsuccessful. Being able to regulate dispersal of reinjected geothermal effluent as planned may prove implausible in these areas. The ‘highly fractured’ nature of subsurface formations also carries the potential for contamination of ground waters aquifers. Well bores are equipped with casings cemented to the subsurface formations designed to prevent this. However fractures within the formations put stress upon the cemented castings and can result in their failure. By 1990, three… wells had already experienced leakage from casing failures. A casing leak at ground water level was found in one of these wells in addition to two other leaks at split and separated casings. This leakage was

occurring very early in this planned geothermal plants’ projected operating time of thirty years. The likelihood of more leaks due to stresses on cement bonds over time is significantly greater.” The development of geothermal energy production in such an unstable volcanically active geological area carries the potential for ground water contamination and severe impacts upon the health of the surrounding environment. 


11)  Venting is allowed that exceeds the fatal dose to humans.  “While H2S emissions are regulated, required to be no more than 0.03 ppm, provisions exist that weaken this requirement. First, while drilling, geothermal contractors are permitted to vent up to 500 ppm of H2S into the atmosphere. This is 5 to 10 times above the inhalation irritation threshold and over 1,666 times the level at which H2S causes damage to sensitive plants (0.30 ppm). The fatal exposure level for H2S is 700 ppm, however, concentrations above 500 ppm can result in respiratory paralysis leading to death. Only if emissions are found to be above 500 ppm, are contractors required to notify air pollution control districts, after which they have twenty-four hours to act before they need to either close the well or install air pollution abatement equipment. 

Yet another loophole is permissible sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions levels. H2S gas oxidizes in a 12 to 18 hour period becoming SO2 as it is exposed to air. The permissible limit for SO2 is up to 1000 ppm, yet over 400 ppm of SO2 can be fatal. The irritation threshold is only 3ppm, respiratory irritation occurs at 1 to 10 ppm and 0.3 ppm for 8 hours is toxic to plants.

This calls into question who these permissible levels are intended to protect? The surrounding environment, workers, community, and animals

– or the uninterrupted economic production interests of geothermal commercial ventures? Why are these permissible levels set 2 ½ times higher than the level fatal to human life? Why are they set over 3,333 times higher than the level toxic to surrounding plants?”[1]


12) Hydrogen Sulfide is much more dangerous than was previously known. . H2S is classed as a chemical asphyxiant, similar to carbon monoxide and cyanide gases. It inhibits cellular respiration and uptake of oxygen, causing biochemical suffocation.

“At high concentrations (500-1,000 parts per million [ppm]), hydrogen sulfide acts primarily as a systemic poison, causing unconsciousness and death by respiratory paralysis. At lower concentrations (50-500 ppm),it acts as a respiratory irritant, which can lead to pulmonary edema upon exposure to concentrations in excess of 250 ppm. Exposure to hydrogen sulfide concentrations of 20-50 ppm may cause eye irritation and conjunctivitis. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established an occupational standard of 10 ppm in the workplace.” [20, 23, 24] “EPA has determined that hydrogen sulfide can reasonably be anticipated to cause serious or irreversible chronic human health effects at relatively low doses and thus is considered to have moderately high to high chronic toxicity.” [5] Prolonged exposures at lower levels can lead to bronchitis, pneumonia, migraine headaches, pulmonary edema, and loss of motor coordination. [28] “The precautionary principle recommends that smelling this gas is a warning that should be heeded by people to evacuate quickly.” [29]  These gases are heavier than air, but rather than putting monitors at ground level, the air quality monitors surrounding the existing PGV plant were put 6-10 feet above the ground, which obviously led to a lower report of emissions.


13) We’re close enough to get the effects of the “fallout.” “Particles of these toxic chemicals are carried from the geothermal emission source, rising with the prevailing wind currents. Those particles, ranging between 5 and 15 microns, generally fall out within 1 to 5 miles. Between .5 to 5 microns they remain airborne for longer periods, allowing chemical reactions to occur changing the nature of the substance (H2S to SO2 to sulfuric acid). Smaller particles ranging from .1 to .5 microns or less remain airborne “indefinitely.” These particles can enter the body through the respiratory system. Those less than 1 to 2 microns can penetrate deep into the respiratory tract and are readily absorbed into the blood stream through lung tissue. Some of these substances, such as mercury, accumulate without being eliminated. Hydrogen sulfide emissions tend to be in the penetrating smaller-size particles.”[1]



14) It’s a myth that geothermal has been safe elsewhere.  This is a far more polluting kind of geothermal than the “clean steam” geothermal done in California, yet still, geothermal is not the safe energy source it is portrayed to be. 

“A $60 million project to extract renewable energy from the hot bedrock deep beneath Basel, Switzerland, was shut down after a government study determined that earthquakes generated by the project were likely to do millions of dollars in damage each year, the New York Times reported. The project was first suspended in 2006 after it generated earthquakes that caused about $9 million in damage to other structures.” [22] “The Times covered the abandonment of a similar project by AltaRock Energy, outside San Francisco, which was attempting to extract vast amounts of renewable energy from deep, hot bedrock.” [22]

“Adults exposed to low levels of a toxic gas released by natural and industrial sources may experience wheezing, coughing and asthma attacks that require medication, finds a three-year study in Iceland. This is one of the first studies to find a connection between hydrogen sulfide – best known for its rotten egg smell – and respiratory health effects.” [29]

“In 1990, Mt. Apo in the Philippines was another site for a geothermal plant being opposed by area residents. The plant was planned within a park regarded “as one of the richest botanical mountains in the region. It is also the last major habitat for the endangered Philippine eagle. The area known as the Bac-Man Project planned thirty or more geothermal wells. Stack source measurements for H2S emissions found 990 ppm; 290 ppm over the fatal threshold limit, and many times the 40 ppm for 5 hours damage to sensitive plants. Well sites are expected to significantly impact the area’s forest; disturbing natural habitat and adversely affecting the region’s fauna’s ability to survive. Another geothermal project, the “Southern Negros”, released spent drill

fluids, injuring fish and shrimp within the area’s river. Effluents containing arsenic are projected in quantities that pose a danger to aquatic fauna. Gayong River’s health as an ecosystem has declined rapidly since the drilling started in the early 1980’s. By 1990 it appeared to be “close to the point of biological death.” Long-term operation of planned geothermal plants is expected to result in the cumulative build up of heavy metals and other toxins in the area’s rivers and seacoast. The consequent absorption of geothermal toxins into the food chain would adversely affect the fishing-dependant coastal population, as well as the fish themselves. Area farmers are also expected to suffer from geothermal toxic emissions, many of which are harmful to plants. As in Hawaii as of 1990, local oppositions to these projects was considerable.”[1, 19]


15) Injecting the toxins back into the earth contaminates water.

“Over the past several decades, U.S. industries have injected more than 30 trillion gallons of toxic liquid deep into the earth, using broad expanses of the nation’s geology as an invisible dumping ground.  No company would be allowed to pour such dangerous chemicals into the rivers or onto the soil. But until recently, scientists and environmental officials have assumed that deep layers of rock beneath the earth would safely entomb the waste for millennia.

There are growing signs they were mistaken.

Records from disparate corners of the United States show that wells drilled to bury this waste deep beneath the ground have repeatedly leaked, sending dangerous chemicals and waste gurgling to the surface or, on occasion, seeping into shallow aquifers that store a significant portion of the nation’s drinking water.

In 2010, contaminants from such a well bubbled up in a west Los Angeles dog park. Within the past three years, similar fountains of oil and gas drilling waste have appeared in Oklahoma and Louisiana. In South Florida, 20 of the nation’s most stringently regulated disposal wells failed in the early 1990s, releasing partly treated sewage into aquifers that may one day be needed to supply Miami’s drinking water.

There are more than 680,000 underground waste and injection wells nationwide, more than 150,000 of which shoot industrial fluids thousands of feet below the surface. Scientists and federal regulators acknowledge they do not know how many of the sites are leaking.”


16) Geothermal kills plants in surrounding areas. “Climatic induced change by steam emissions increased the air temperature, cloudiness and humidity of the area. This induced change has been shown to be responsible “for fungal disease and branch die off in black oaks” at the Geysers.”[1]



17)  It’s a myth that geothermal will lead to cheaper electric rates. The customers will have to pay for this bad investment.  “Hawai`i county not only has the highest utility rates in the nation, it has held that record for decades, in spite of 20% of our power coming from geothermal. HECO has already started to experience a decline (in the number of people on the grid) and has to be acutely aware that it could escalate. In the past few years the rate of solar installations within Hawai`i has doubled each year. The number of renewable energy developers who have made proposals to the utility for large-scale grid-connected renewable energy projects has gone up ten-fold. The increasing use of various energy efficiency systems is also driving down the demand for electricity. HECO, and its subsidiaries Maui Electric (MECO) and Hawaii Electric Light (HELCO), experienced peak energy use in 2004. Since then the demand for electricity has been dropping.

This mechanism states that the utility is entitled to a certain level of revenue, and as sales drop they can automatically increase rates to keep their revenue on target. The PUC has already approved this mechanism.”[6]


18) Better options exist.  Hawaii will be less energy-resilient with geothermal, since the state’s power supply could be crippled.  With ample sunshine, it makes sense for solar generation to be localized. 

19) The US is falling behind the rest of the world in solar energy technology.  “Germany’s power industry has always been a world leader, but since the country closed eight nuclear power plants after the Japanese disaster and announced they would be shutting down the remaining nine by 2022, pressure to find alternative energy has mounted. Other sources such as wind and biomass are expected to pick up the slack, but solar power has never been more important./  The U.S. put a 31% tariff on Chinese solar panels and states are cutting the solar incentive programs. If the U.S. and Hawaii were seriousabout getting off oil they would instead buy all the cheap solar and install it. Even if China was dumping panels the government should have simply bought them all, installed them and gotten off oil.[8]  The United States Department of Commerce imposed extreme tariffs on China-made solar panels and modules of between 31% and 250%, making them much less affordable for U.S. consumers. Commerce took the additional extraordinary step of making the tariffs

retroactive for 90 days to prevent U.S businesses and homeowners from getting a decent price on the basis that their local dealer/installer bought panels before the date of their decision. Solar in this country just got a lot more expensive and the 100,000 domestic solar industry jobs (mostly installing and servicing) created over the last five years are now at risk. Also, oil, coal and gas suddenly can remain price competitive with solar in the U.S. for far longer than market forces would otherwise dictate. Longer term, it could make the U.S. may the last dirty, expensive, fossil-fuels/geothermal based economic backwater economy in the developed world.” [11]


20)  There is no sane reason why Hawaii should lag the nation in solar installations. “Hawaii’s goal of energy independence is growing closer, with the state’s solar installations rising 45 percent in first quarter 2012 over the same period last year, as noted in a recent Star-Advertiser article. In only three months, Hawaii homeowners and businesses installed another 14.8 mega-watts of solar generating capacity.   But though blessed with sunlight, Hawaii lagged far behind the average 85 percent national increase. New Jersey, not known for its sun, added an astounding 174 MW of solar installations — nearly 12 times Hawaii’s increase.  Hawaii’s comparatively slow gain results from Hawaiian Electric Co. limiting solar to 15 percent per circuit, pleading that further increases will destabilize the grid. But this is a false, self-serving argument: On Kauai, not served by HECO, some circuits are at 100 percent solar penetration with no impact on the grid.”[13]

21)  Hawaii has enough air quality issues already. With an eruption that has been ongoing for decades, the last thing we need is to add a potentially lethal cocktail of chemicals released into the air.  Kona’s air quality will be enormously impacted by geothermal development in Puna… or on Hualalai volcano.  Because of the inversion layer in the atmosphere, poisonous emissions will stay in the air above Kona for extended periods of time.  “During operation of the geothermal wells, gases may be released to the atmosphere [including] carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and trace amounts of 222radon. The emission of hydrogen sulfide gas is considered to be the most important tpublic health problem related to the operation of these geothermal wells. Since hydrogen sulfide is heavier than air, it can accumulate in low-lying areas during temperature inversions or when prevailing trade winds are calm.” [20]

22) Sacrificing the sustainable for the unsustainable is the height of folly.  Puna is an area where many people grow their own food, catch their own water, and generate their own solar power.  This should become an example for the rest of the islands, rather than an industrial wasteland sacrificed to benefit the urban center of Honolulu.  While none of us is entirely independent, and we all are interrelated, such a promising example of self-sufficiency should not be destroyed.

23) Kona could be severely impacted by their geothermal wells, as well as by those in Puna.  Hualalai volcano is potentially dangerous because its lava is so fast flowing.  Lava was reported to flow from 5000 ft to the ocean in 2 hours, last time it erupted.  A geothermal disaster above Kona could be deadly.

24) Legislative foul play.  Since the consumers will be footing the bill for HELCO’s lousy investment, which stands to make the cost of living here even higher, we ought to have a say in the decision.  But Act 55 and the Public Land Development Corporation have created an “end run” at the state level to avoid local control, state taxes, and the normal planning and permitting process.  Instead, only one hearing is needed, held in Honolulu, with only 6 days notice.  PLDC, which has been dubbed “grand theft aina,” is a mechanism for State and Ceded lands to be developed by private corporations.  Not only is there a bailout clause so that the public bears the financial risk, but neighboring landowners can be forced to pay for costly improvements, or face losing their lands.  This is a truly bad piece of legislation that needs to be repealed. 

25The cable itself is an economic as well as environmental threat.  Massachusetts studied, and ultimately rejected undersea cables using the same technology as a “high-risk” installation, too expensive to construct, with too many severe environmental impacts and too difficult to maintain.” “The Governor’s and HECO’s proposed multi-billion-dollar interisland cable would substantially increase Hawaii electric rates and taxes. It would be constructed through the Hawaii Humpback Whale National Sanctuary, the world-famous Molokai Reef, and the Penguin Banks, one of the most significant marine environments in the Pacific. No environmental or economic analyses of this project have been done, and the Governor is attempting to exclude it from such studies and public review.” [17]



26)  The noise is horrendous.  Ask anyone who’s lived near the geothermal drilling, with the noise pounding them 24/7. 

1. From the Oregon Sierra Club  <>








































Sustainable Living Research Resolution proposal



Concerning Sustainable Living Research Sites in the State of Hawaii



The purpose of this Resolution is to support the worldwide transition to a livable, just, and sustainable civilization, by requesting and urging the Government of the State of Hawaii to enact legislation that would allow Hawaii’s County governments to permit the establishment and operation of “Sustainable Living Research Sites” on lands designated “agricultural” under state law [when the land involved is less than fifteen acres in size?].


A Sustainable Living Research Site is an area of land on which the legal owners and/or occupants are permitted to engage in activities and erect structures that might not otherwise be permitted under state and/or county law.




WHEREAS it is widely recognized that increases in human population, declining natural resources (topsoil, forests, fisheries, minerals, and fuels), rising levels of air and water pollution, climate change, unemployment, poverty, and other dangerously disruptive trends require immediate and creative responses by private and governmental entities of all sizes, at all levels; and


WHEREAS the “Hawaii 2050” plan calls upon all sectors and individuals to take action for the sustainability of the state’s economy, resources, environment, and quality of life; and


WHEREAS the County of Hawaii Resolution 249-09 adopted the “Sustainability Primer” which recognizes that there are “structural barriers that actually prevent people from being able to meet their own needs;” and


WHEREAS many citizens, families, organizations, and communities of Hawaii are ready, willing, and able to develop, test, refine, and implement a wide range of innovative methods, technologies, and holistic systems that increase the productivity, resilience, health, and sustainability of Hawaii’s economy, ecosystems, people, and culture; and


WHEREAS truly sustainable living frequently involves new and innovative methods, technologies, and holistic systems that conserve, harvest, and produce energy; increase net-negative CO2 output (“forests versus fires”); conserve and harvest fresh water; conserve and improve topsoil without expensive or toxic inputs; increase local food quality and security using organic methods and local materials; increase biodiversity and protect wildlife; provide onsite waste treatment and recycling with minimal or zero air and surface or ground water pollution; increase the supply of affordable housing by using on-site timber and re-using/recycling discarded/”waste” lumber, windows, plumbing supplies, and other manufactured goods; reduce the need for and use of imports from distant places while increasing the use and employment of local materials, labor, skills, and products; enrich neighborhood educational, vocational, and cultural opportunities for all ages while enhancing their experience of place and community; reduce the need for expensive public infrastructure and services; stimulate private investments in sustainable development; and


WHEREAS the development, testing, and refining of the aforesaid methods, technologies, and holistic systems for sustainable living frequently requires activities and structures that Hawaii’s County Governments might not be authorized to permit on lands designated “agricultural” under state law; and


WHEREAS a Sustainable Living Research Site is an area of land on which the legal owners and/or occupants are permitted to engage in activities and erect structures that might otherwise be prohibited or unduly constrained by state and/or county law;


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Hawaii County Council supports the establishment of Sustainable Living Research Sites in Hawaii and hereby requests and urges the Government of the State of Hawaii to enact legislation which authorizes Hawaii’s County Governments to permit Sustainable Living Research Sites [on areas of less than fifteen acres?] on land designated “agricultural” under state law; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Hawaii County Council will work with state officials to prepare and promote such legislation.




register to vote!


Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance efforts are currently focused on changing government regulatory obstacles to sustainability and community.

We need to support candidates who support us!!

Register to vote.

July 12 is the deadline to register for the August 11, 2012 Primary election.

Who May Register to Vote?

You may register to vote if you are:

A citizen of the United States of America;

A legal resident of Hawaii; and

At least 18 years of age.

How to Register to Vote?

By Mail: Mail in voter registration form is widely available. Mail the completed Affidavit on Application for Voter Registration to the Office of the City or County Clerk where you reside.

In Person: Visit the Office of the City or County Clerk where you reside to complete an Affidavit on Application for Voter Registration.

Department of Motor Vehicle: The State of Hawaii Application for Motor Vehicle Driver’s License also contains a Motor Voter Affidavit on Application for Voter Registration allowing any individual to simultaneously apply for a driver’s license and register to vote.

Where to Get a Voter Registration Form?

Affidavit on Application for Voter Registration brochures are available at:

Public libraries

U.S. Post Offices

Phone Directory

State services agencies

University of Hawaii System

Office of Elections’ website (<>

Do You Need to Re-Register?

If you have changed your address or changed your name:

You must re-register.

Complete an Affidavit on Application for Voter Registration by mail or in-person at your City or County Clerk.

Your voter registration record will be updated upon receipt of a properly completed affidavit.

Notice to First Time Voters Who Register to Vote by Mail:

If you are (1) registering to vote for the first time in the State of Hawai’i; and (2) are mailing in this Affidavit on Application for Voter Registration you must provide proof of identification. Proof of identification includes a copy of:

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Pilago seeks code changes- article in newspaper

 Pilago seeks building code alternatives

by Nancy Cook Lauer

Even as the Hawaii County Council plans a final vote Wednesday on a tough new building code, one councilor want to exempt rural dwellings from some of the provisions.


A resolutions requesting a “Sustainablity Habitat Ordinance”, sponsored by North Kona Councilman Angel Pilago, will be considered by the County Council at its 9 a.m. Wed. meeting..

It’s not the first time a council member sponsored legis. seeking alternatives to the building code. 

Pilago said he sponsored the resolution at the request of a community group, Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance, and he is eager to find alternatives to statewide building codes that often prove onerous to the Big Island’s primarily rural population.

“We should certainly want a citizens to work together to make a better community”, Pilago said.  “I wouldn’t want the council or the administration to be too heavy-handed in creating standards that are too restrictive for our community.” 


Pilago’s resolution doesn’t carry ((the jump from front page to middle page 4)) the weight of law, but requests a proposed law be agreed upon by the DPW before coming back to council.  DPW Director Warren Lee said Thursday that the resolution is written broadly and is something his department can at least begin with.


“I think the resolution is well intended, and it sets the table for more deliberation and discussion”, Lee said.


The county faces and April 15 deadline to have an updated building code in place.  Bill 270, the new building code, is also on the agenda, making at least the seventh council discussion of the bill since it was introduced more than a year ago. 


Lee said his understanding of the Pilago resolution is that it wants to allow alternative building materials such as bamboo, recycled lumber and other local materials.  But even if the county allows the alternative materials, they will still need to be approved by the state Building Code Council, of which a DPW staffer is a member.


Health and safety will take priority, Lee said, and the county’s code can’t be less stringent than the state code.  Materials must also be tested for strength and other factors, he said.


James Weatherford, representing the HSCA, told the council’s PWPRC last week that the proposed ordinance would apply only to owner/builders on ag. lots in rural areas.  But some council members were concerned about health and safety issues, and South Kona’s Brenda Ford suggested efficiency units could be constructed with traditional materials as an alternative way to create affordable housing.



Compost toilets in state parks

The State has installed these marvels at some parks around, so presumably the DOH finds them acceptable:




They’ve apparently allowed several kinds of composting toilets over the last 15 years here:

<> in the shoreline areas north of the boat harbor.  Must be some DOH allowances for that to have happened.






There are many eco-friendly solutions to treating sewage onsite that are superior to those mandated by law. This would include “dry” compost and “wet” flushing systems.

The EPA requires that septic tanks be built for health and to protect the ground water. Yet with septic tanks sewage is kept in a government approved container (many of which eventually disintegrate here in the tropics).

Every few years once the tank is “full”, the sewage is supposed to be drained, trucked to a facility where it is chemically treated and then disposed of, often with harmful effects on the environment, except in a different location.

What are the environmental and health benefits of that? What are the environmental costs of septic tanks in Hawaii? What happens to our sewage under current regulations?

When a project is eco based are we fighting for new standards or exemptions from existing standards? New standards mean that a whole new set of bureaucratic rules that would limit experimentation. However, Experimental eco-exemptions that prove themselves over time then be could be incorporated into existing standards.

In other words by working towards eco-experimental exemptions we give all communities room to find out what works for them as long as what they do is properly documented and justified. Then if at least 5 years pass and there are no health or safety incidents those practices can be incorporated into existing code and regulations.

Our eco-toilet is not legal according to the government due to health and environmental regulations but it has been in use since 2006 and there has not been one health problem. And we believe that we process the sewage in a way that is not harmful to the environment. However, we are always open to improvements for this is a “demonstration” eco-toilet.





Gov Wastewater links… curious

Here are two sites & some startling info I found:


there’s information in a memorandum from Hawaii’s DOH Wastewater Branch to consulting engineers that not only defines rules for cesspools but also appears to state that Hawaii’s rules are in direct conflict with EPA rules, subjecting property owners to EPA fines even if they are in compliance with Hawaii rules?!


This is a 5 page or so document, & the bit just mentioned is about halfway in, here’s an excerpt:


“Major Conflicts between federal rules on LCCs and Hawaii Admin. Rules


(HAR), Chapter 11-62, Wastewater Systems:



• Chapter 11-62 allows a new cesspool to be constructed in non-critical


wastewater disposal areas and serve a maximum of two (2) dwellings provided


that the total number of bedrooms or bedroom like rooms in the two dwellings


does not exceed five (5).


Constructing and using a new cesspool to serve two dwelling units immediately


places the owner in violation of EPA’s rules and subjects the owner to


enforcement by EPA, including fines of up to $32,500 per day.  This provision of


the rule became effective on April 5, 2000.)



• Chapter 11-62 allows a new cesspool to be constructed in a non-critical


wastewater disposal area and serve a building other than dwelling provided that


wastewater do not exceed 1000 gallons per day per cesspool, wastewater is


domestic or domestic like, and various design and siting requirements are met.


Constructing and using a new cesspool under these circumstances places the


owner in immediate violation of EPA’s rule and subjects the owner to


enforcement by EPA, including fines of up to $32,500 per day if the cesspool


serves or has the capacity to serve 20 or more persons a day.



• Chapter 11-62 allows a new dwelling to connect into an existing cesspool that is


serving an existing dwelling provided that a number of conditions are met (see


sections 11-62-06(l) and 11-62-31.1(b)(1) )


Once the new dwelling is connected to the existing cesspool, the owner of the


dwelling or property is immediately in violation of EPA’s rules and subject to


enforcement by EPA, including fines of up to $32,500 per day.


In the examples cited above, there are no violations of Chapter 11 62, Wastewater


Systems.  However, the wastewater systems cited in the above examples are in


violations of federal UIC rules.  As the processing of building permit applications is a


State-County function, the Wastewater Branch has no alternative but to sign a building


permit application which is in compliance with State rules.



However, we are cooperating with EPA, and in an effort to get voluntary compliance, we


will notify the building permit applicant of the potential federal rule violation and


recommend that the wastewater system be revised.  Additionally, we will forward


information to EPA regarding any building permit application we sign which we suspect


violates the new LCC rules.  EPA has sole discretionary authority in determining if a


cesspool is a LCC and in taking enforcement action against violators of the federal UIC


rules. ”

And I also checked out:



to learn more about waste mgmt in general, and to see what recommendations there are for alternative things property owners in Hawaii can do in rural areas. This 2008 document is 120 pages long.

As mentioned, it seems important to research what sustainable, healthy alternatives exist that would work for both intentional communities & the planet, and then push for these, educating as necessary…




“Watson wick” bio-filtration system

I am implementing a "Watson wick" bio-filtration system as part of a project I'm working with on in East Hawai'i. What little info is online is at Art Ludwig's Oasis Design consulting site (Art is a premier resource for graywater design information):

There are some unknown number of these designed by Tom Watson in Southwestern USA locations that have been working fine for a decade or more. I'm not aware of any (yet :-) in our area.
I'll be talking with Watson to get his ideas on issues relevant to our different climate, and documenting this implementation for demonstration purposes and proof of concept.

Meanwhile simple, inexpensive/DIY composting toilet and graywater system designs are well known and demonstrated here and globally. It's easy to find out what exists and what works. What isn't easy is changing technocratic and fecephobic cultural patterns and habits so that what exists and works is "legal."