Water allotments for golf courses make no sense
The state Water Commission has approved plans to use drinking-quality water for two new golf courses.
The state Water Commission did the Honolulu Board of Water Supply no favor when it put its stamp of approval on a permit to pump supplies suitable for drinking to quench the thirst of a couple of golf courses planned for Central Oahu.
Residents who have had to cut down water use during the past few years when dry spells threatened safe levels in aquifers will be scratching their heads should that need arise again. It would be understandable if they ignore the call for conservation when they realize that a million gallons a day will be sprinkled on putting greens and fairways in Waiawa.
The commission's action will allow two wells to be drilled to bring up potable water for the golf courses from the Waipahu-Waiawa aquifer -- up until the time recycled water becomes available, possibly in five to six years. Then the BWS will reclaim the groundwater allocation.
However, the commission's temporary allocation for the golf courses isn't the only concern. Also critical are the other problems construction of as many as 12,000 homes will present to the region, including additional traffic on highways already packed with cars.
Besides homes and golf courses built across 3,700 acres owned by the Kamehameha Schools, the new development will spread retail operations across 90 acres of land. First proposed in the 1980s, the environmental impact statement for the development is almost 20 years old.
Rezoning for the development was approved by the City Council in 1998, overriding a veto by then-Mayor Harris, who objected to the scale of the commercial elements and wanted to steer housing toward Kapolei.
Since then, public sensibilities about building houses on Central Oahu's agricultural lands have shifted. Moreover, overcrowded roads have become a constant complaint among drivers who navigate through Central Oahu to downtown Honolulu. Schools in the area are jammed with children who attend multitrack classes because of space shortages.
The project by Waiawa Developers LLC had originally sought water from the Waiahole Ditch system, but after contentious legal battles, Kamehameha Schools withdrew its request, saying it would seek other sources.
Before granting permits to supply homes with water, it would be prudent for the commission to seek an updated review of how much water is actually available in the Waipahu-Waiawa aquifer, since the amount has been disputed in requests for allocations for other projects.
Water is key to a development. The commission should use this opportunity to view the logic of such a huge project through a current lens.