LIHU’E — Is there a need to preserve Kaua’i’s most fertile agricultural lands
if there won’t be farmers to farm them?
Kilauea farmer and developer Mike
Dyer doesn’t see large-scale, plantation-style agriculture “visible on the
horizon” for the island, so therefore sees little need to place restrictions on
non-agricultural development on those lands.
Dyer spoke at a meeting
Wednesday of a rural lands subcommittee of the Citizens Advisory Committee
working on the Kaua’i General Plan Discussion Draft.
Former Kaua’i Planning
Director Tom Shigemoto supported General Plan provisions designed to preserve
important agricultural lands for agricultural purposes.
How to achieve that
end is the problem, he said.
The problem, said GPU consultant Robin Foster,
is getting farmers on the land.
“You won’t, anymore,” said Avery Youn,
another former planning director.
“You won’t put farmers on the land by
keeping the barbarians off,” said Bill Spitz, the county Office of Economic
Development’s agricultural coordinator, quoting another source.
existing General Plan, as well as the state Constitution, call for agricultural
land designations to conserve land and water resources in order to insure an
excellent resource base for existing and potential agricultural uses, and
assure a sufficient supply of land available for sale or lease at a cost that
is economically feasible for agricultural enterprise.
But some CAC members
questioned whether there are enough farmers today and projected for the future
to justify setting aside prime agricultural lands for agriculture.
17,000 customers the county Department of Water serves, just 400 get
agricultural rates which are substantially lower than domestic rates.
Awtry said there are farmers aching to get on land and work it, but with little
success so far.
Discouraging new agricultural communities (areas with both
residences and agricultural usage) that tend to stretch and drive up the cost
of providing county services is a new policy proposed for inclusion in the
Ed Tschupp, deputy manager of the county Department of Water,
used Kilauea and Lihu’e as service area examples to show how agricultural usage
increases costs and brings in less revenue for the department.
983 customers in the Kilauea area, and the 70 agricultural users take one third
of the water, Tschupp said. Expenses are 10 percent higher in spread-out
Kilauea than compact Lihu’e, and revenues are lower in Kilauea per 1,000
gallons used than Lihu’e.
Awtry and others said it doesn’t make sense for
farmers to use expensive, potable (drinkable) water for crops, flowers and
“We’re using a lot of valuable water for agriculture, and it
doesn’t make sense,” she said.
Don Heacock said the General Plan should
encourage agriculture on lots where non-potable water sources are present, and
a definition should be placed on “sustainable agriculture.”
isn’t a waste. It’s a resource,” said Heacock, pointing to progressive counties
on the Mainland which have for years had “gray water ordinances,” or
requirements for re-use of water that on Kaua’i flows down a sink drain and
right into a cesspool, septic tank, or to a wastewater treatment plant when
much of it really doesn’t need to be treated and could be used to water lawns
and crops without treatment expenses.
Another meeting of the rural lands
subcommittee has been set for Wednesday., Feb. 23, at 4 p.m. at the Lihu’e