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Interested in Protecting our Natural Resources?
Groundwater Quality Protection
As 95% of Hawai'i's drinking water comes from groundwater, protecting the quality and continuing recharge of our groundwater is a major challenge for us. With this in mind, the Department of Health has been developing a Groundwater Quality Protection Strategy Plan, and I have been sitting on the Technical Advisory Committee. Although the members of the committee agreed that- we must have a good strategy plan, we disagreed on several issues, including what was the most desirable approach to implementing comprehensive groundwater management.
There are three basic approaches' to groundwater management. As described in Groundwater: A Citizen's Guide, published by the LWV; US Ed Fund (1986), they are: non-degradation; limited degradation; and groundwater classification or differential protection.
One of these approaches, the "groundwater classification and differential protection" approach has been adopted in the proposed strategy plan. Essentially the same approach as the existing state programs, it "is a means of distinguishing among different kinds of aquifers on the basis of water quality and present or potential uses." A potential problem with this approach is that "it assumes that aquifers or groundwater regions are geologically discrete with uniform characteristics that can be differentiated. However, even regions within the same aquifer can be very different, and the movement of groundwater from one area to another makes classification difficult."
Some members of the committee strongly feel that a major change in the state's groundwater protection program is necessary and support the "non-degradation" approach. This approach is designed to protect groundwater quality at existing levels. It "does not differentiate among different types of groundwater but assumes that all groundwater is equally valuable and deserves the highest level of protection."
A series of public hearings will be held on the Groundwater Protection Strategy Plan, and written commentaries will be accepted until October 21. If you have any thoughts that you would like incorporated in the League's comments, send them to me at 1180 Kika Place, Kailua, Hawai'i 96734
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