East Maui development finds pesticides in water
WAILUKU » Developers planning to build a subdivision on former pineapple fields in East Maui have found traces of pesticides in the project's well water.
Holt & Everhart, an Oregon company developing the property, said initial tests showed the well water on the land was pure enough to pass federal standards but "just barely" cleared the tougher state standards.
Rick Holt, a partner with the firm, said the company wanted to pump the site's wells to purify the water source before it submitted samples to the state Department of Health for accreditation.
Holt & Everhart bought the land overlooking Maui's big-wave surf site "Jaws" for $3.5 million three years ago.
According to the development's Web site, Holt & Everhart plans to sell 15 four-acre parcels on the property while setting aside another 180 acres for agriculture.
Holt said he didn't know how much water the company would pump.
"There's no fixed amount," he said. "You do it until you've made sure there's no remnants of contamination from the upper reaches remaining. It's not done much here. People don't take care of the details of putting wells in."
A hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, Stephen Gingerich, said it's too soon to tell whether the pumping will be effective.
"Either it's contaminated from their drilling process and they'll clean it out, or the lower aquifer is contaminated from years of agriculture," he said. "At this point it remains to be seen which one it's going to be."
Contamination of the groundwater source on former sugarcane land at Hamakuapoko has limited the county's use of two wells there.
Officials with the state Commission on Water Resource Management and the Department of Health said Peahi Farms is not violating any laws by purging the wells.
The Department of Health Clean Water Branch prohibits the dumping of water into the ocean. But Holt said Peahi Farms is containing all the pumped-out water in large retention basins on the property.
The development aims subsidize farming on the property through homes it will sell.