The State of Hawai’i continues to drag its feet in building the pump-out facility at Ma’alaea Harbor. In frustration, residents, user groups and even visitors are raising their voices.
“The letters to the editor in The Maui News are full of hysteria [and] people are picketing at Wailea beaches,” said Jeff Strahn, Vice President and General Manager for Maui Dive Shop at the Nov. 17, 2005 Governor’s Maui Council of Advisory meeting. “Something must be done to address this problem.”
Despite all the planning and funding done over the past three years, state officials continue to say that it will take another three years to build the pump-out facility at Ma’alaea—a facility the industry has been asking for since the Reagan Administration.
Acknowledging the state’s lack of action, Richard Fairclo—a member of the Kihei Canoe Club and part of a grass-roots citizen effort named the “Pump-Don’t-Dump” coalition—said the simplest solution would be for the governor to provide dockside pump trucks at Ma’alaea. The harbor may be the state’s responsibility, but Maui County Mayor Arakawa has been working to implement an interim solution to stop the dumping.
“We recognize the concern in our community,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa. “It’s not palatable for community to wait three to four more years for a solution while the state works on the permanent fix.”
The mayor has been working with the Ocean Tourism Coalition to find county funding for pump trucks to begin pumping at Ma’alaea. Lynn A.S. Araki-Regan, Maui County’s Economic Development Coordinator, said the county is assisting the Ocean Tourism Coalition with a $60,000 grant to hire a pump truck to service the vessels at Ma’alaea Harbor.
“Once the grant application is submitted by the Ocean Tourism Coalition to OED [the Office of Economic Development], it is anticipated that the review of the application, as well as the preparation, execution and processing of the grant agreement will take between three to four weeks,”she said. “In the meantime, OED is in the process of applying for a $60,000 grant for matching funds from the Hawai’i Tourism Authority to help facilitate a second year of pumping at Ma’alaea.”
As it is now, most boats docking at Ma’alaea Harbor or the Kihei Boat ramp dump their waste three miles offshore. While completely legal, this dumping area lies within the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.
Under the mayor’s plan, all commercial tour and snorkel boats tying up at Ma’alaea could have their tanks pumped out at the docks, effectively ending their dumping into the whale sanctuary. The $60,000 grant will not cover all the boats’ pumping expenses, but local operators still appreciate the effort.
“I applaud Mayor Arakawa for stepping up to the plate and helping us find a temporary solution,” said Strahn.
Strahn added that there are many details boat owners still need to consider. They’re going to have to find hoses long enough to reach the pump trucks, then learn how to handle and store them after the human waste has been pumped through them.
That shouldn’t prove too difficult. But even if the boaters find their hoses and the county-funded trucks start rolling into the harbor, it’s just a temporary measure. At some point, the state is going to have to do what they said they’d do.
“We just need the state to take responsibility and build this pump-out facility at Ma’alaea,” said Strahn. MTW