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Fresh Water: From the Mountains To Your Drinking Glass

(page 1 of 8)

Photo: Rae Huo

Take Action Now

In November 2011, Gov. Neil Abercrombie unveiled a new plan, “The Rain Follows the Forest: A Plan to Replenish Hawaii’s Source of Water.” The governor shares his thoughts on what he has tagged as a priority for his administration – protecting the state’s watershed areas.

The best time to start protecting our mauka watersheds was decades ago. The second best time is now.

Sustaining our water is not a new issue. I first got elected back in 1974 to the state House of Representatives on ideas from what was then the beginnings of the environmental movement – a message I believe resonated with voters. At that time, it was assumed we had an endless supply of water. We did not take into account invasive species, human activity and other threats that we know now to our forests, the producers of our water.

Our watersheds are in trouble. Only a tenth of priority watershed is protected and that has taken us 40 years to accomplish. Protecting our watershed forests is the most cost-effective and cost-efficient way to produce water. Harsher, drier times are ahead of us. Let us operate on the conservative side and take action now for the long term future for water.

Water is key to planning and policy-making.

Energy independence, environmental sustainability, food sustainability – they all come back to water. We as a state need to know where we’re going on food production, biofuels, urbanization and more. Water is key in our decision-making.

We also cannot keep pouring money into marketing Hawaii’s natural beauty while neglecting to make improvements to the “product” – public facilities, greener buildings, vibrant culture and arts, and our natural environment. The economic benefits created, such as jobs, will ripple through our economy for current and future generations. Visitors to Hawaii do observe and tell others about the effects of policies that show we respect the environment. We have an opportunity through our decisions to educate visitors and ourselves about the cultural, economic and environmental importance of our native forests.

New Day in Hawaii Comprehensive Plan emphasizes stewardship of government on natural resource management.

The governor’s office has the overall authority on natural resource management. I take this role seriously for watershed protection. We must enable the Department of Land and Natural Resources to be able to fully steward watershed protection. Taking care of invasive species and other threats are immediate concerns. We must also monitor on-the-ground actions, educate residents and visitors about conserving native forests, and we must promote consistent and informed land use decision-making that protects watersheds.

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