Monday, May 28, 2001

Conserving water
is easy, necessary --
and virtuous

The issue: Water supplies are low
and residents are asked to cut their usage.

Once again, the Board of Water Supply is asking Oahu residents to conserve because aquifers levels have dropped with the low winter rainfall of the last four years. Compliance is necessary as we move into the summer months, but water conservation is a year-round personal virtue everyone should adopt. It doesn't require major sacrifice and is as easy as turning off the tap.

Oahu is blessed with water that is considered among the best in the world. Supplies come from underground aquifers, where rain has collected after percolating through the volcanic rock -- nature's purifiers -- of the Koolau mountains. Pumps and pipelines send the water to users, who simply twist the handle on the faucet to get a drink.

Other Hawaii residents aren't so fortunate.

On the Big Island, for example, county water lines don't extend to many homes outside the urban areas. Residents have catchment systems, whereby gutters "catch" rainfall from rooftops and other surfaces and collected in tanks.

Because they are so dependent on their own supplies, people with catchments keep a close eye on how much they use. They turn off the tap when soaping themselves in the shower, install water-saving devices in toilet tanks, wash dishes in a dishpan or stoppered sink, then recycle the dishwater for plants outdoors. They sweep walkways and patios rather than hose them down.

Urban dwellers should take lessons from them. In fact, all of these conservation practices are recommended by the water board. Other conservation tips are:

>> Wash cars with using a pail instead of running a hose or get a nozzle that shuts off the flow.

>> Don't run the dishwasher until it is full.

>> Don't water plants or the lawns at midday when evaporation will be highest. Use mulch or grass clippings to retain moisture around plants.

>> Fix dripping faucets. The board estimates that a leak of only one-fifth of a gallon per minute amounts to more than 8,500 gallons a month of wasted water. It also adds at least $30 to your bi-monthly bill.

The board has other suggestions at its website: www. But the rule of thumb is just this: Don't let the water run when you don't need it.

Tangled lawsuit is
enough to induce

The issue: A state judge has ruled
that a Hawaii airline was justified in refusing
to hire a pilot who is blind in one eye.

YOSSARIAN, where are you? The protagonist aviator in Joseph Heller's classic novel, "Catch-22," may have a pilot in Hawaii with whom to compare notes. With the latest court ruling, this catch is about as parallel as it gets.

Yossarian found that the only basis for wartime discharge from the Army Air Corps was insanity, but there was a catch: Catch-22. Any pilot who sought discharge was obviously not insane.

Pilot Bruce Pied is suing Aloha Island Air for refusing to hire him because he has only one eye, but to prove discrimination under Hawaii's disabilities law he must prove that his limitation to one good eye is a disability. The airlines believes it is and he insists it's not.

A disease that attacked an optic nerve caused Pied, 48, to lose sight in his left eye at age 18. That did not deter him from becoming certified by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly, and he has piloted for various small airlines in the past 14 years.

Having only one eye is known to cause loss of depth perception, but Dr. Russell Stodd, a Maui eye surgeon, says that ability, called stereopsis, can be relearned. "In terms of looking far away, which is what an airline pilot is doing, the ability to see with one eye serves just as well as two," he says.

The Hawaii Civil Rights Commission ruled last year that Aloha Island Air, an affiliate of Aloha Airlines, was wrong in refusing to hire Pied 10 years ago on the basis of its policy not to hire "monocular" pilots, and ordered the airline to pay Pied $1.4 million in compensation. State Circuit Judge Eden Elizabeth Hifo has overturned that decision, setting the stage for further appeal.

To prove disability discrimination, Pied must be disabled, i.e. suffer a handicap that substantially limits any major life activity. Hifo ruled that "people who can't see out of one of two eyes have no substantial limitation on their vision," which is exactly what Pied has been saying. The thrust of his argument is that the airline thinks it is a disability and refuses to hire him because of it. But before he can make that point under the state disabilities law, he has to prove he is disabled.

This circular argument could spiral through several layers of courts before being resolved. Both sides could save a lot of grief if they could just, well, try to see eye to eye.

Published by Oahu Publications Inc., a subsidiary of Black Press.

Don Kendall, President

John Flanagan, publisher and editor in chief 529-4748;
Frank Bridgewater, managing editor 529-4791;
Michael Rovner,
assistant managing editor 529-4768;
Lucy Young-Oda, assistant managing editor 529-4762;

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