Top conservationists are named in Lihu’e

LIHU’E — Conservation efforts at maximizing the use of one of Kaua’i’s natural resources earned operators of a golf course and a farmer awards for their efforts.

Officials from the East and West Kauai Soil and Water Conservation Districts (EWS-WCD) and the County of Kaua’i Department of Water presented their 2005 Water Conservationist of the Year awards at the DOW facility on Pua Loke Street yesterday.

Officials at Kiahuna Players, LLC, the operator of the Kiahuna Golf Course, and represented by Robert Medeiros, were honored as the West Kaua’i district’s honoree, for their efforts at reducing their water consumption, while Moloa’a farmer John Parziale of Kauai Authentic Farms was honored by leaders with the East Kaua’i district.

In making the awards, Ted Inouye of the EWSWCD noted that Kiahuna Golf Club leaders use several techniques for conserving water on their golf course.

One of the most innovative techniques is the replanting of their golf course with a species of grass, seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum), that is more drought- and salt-resistant than Bermuda grass. Additionally, one of the properties of the grass allows members of the grounds crew to use salt water to control alien species from growing through.

However, golf courses still require a lot of water to keep their greens green, and Kiahuna leaders rely on two sources of water for their irrigation needs. Their primary source is reclaimed water from the Aqua Engineers’ nearby wastewater treatment facility, which is secondarily treated wastewater and has historically been used to irrigate golf courses and municipal landscaping.

The benefits of using reclaimed water include reducing demands on surface and potable water, reducing discharges to surface water, and recharging groundwater.

Reclaimed water is only used for irrigation, and state Department of Health leaders restrict its use near wells and streams. Kiahuna officials comply by not using this water within 50 feet of Waikomo Stream.

Instead, they turn to a secondary source which originates from Mount Kahili and ends up in a ditch that takes water from a more mauka section of Waikomo Stream.

Robert Medeiros noted that the grass-replanting has reduced their dependence on water from an average of 300,000 gallons per night to where they are projecting about 9,000 gallons per day.

Monika Mira, conservation specialist for the EWSWCD, noted that the new grass allows members of the Kiahuna crews to use less herbicides, which reduces the amount of pollutants that could become entrained in storm water runoff, thereby reducing the chances of polluting nearby streams.

Kiahuna Players LLC leaders operate the 140-acre Kiahuna Golf Course that has some special features, including a cave that is home to Kaua’i’s endangered, blind, no-eyed cave spider, Adelecosa anops, and the Kaua’i amphipod, Spelaeorchestia koloana.

Medeiros said that, once the grass-replanting project is completed, members of course maintenance crews will begin work on the golf-course landscaping that will feature many native plants that can provide habitat for endangered species.

These habitat-enhancements are not just for the blind cave spider, but also for the numerous endangered water birds that frequent the area, he said. Additionally, another benefit of utilizing native plants is the improvement of infiltration rates which can, in turn, reduce runoff.

“He’s not even a customer,” said Ed Tschupp, DOW manager and chief engineer, of the East Kaua’i honoree, John Parziale of Kauai Authentic Farms. Tschupp, in congratulating both honorees, said he encourages the wise use of all water resources.

Parziale is the operator of a five-acre farm in Moloa’a, where he produces a diverse array of crops, including lettuce, asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, herbs, tropical flowers, bamboos, bananas, lychee, mango-steen and avocados.

His efforts at trying to eliminate his dependence on domestic water is accomplished by using alternative sources.

Kauai Authentic Farms leaders currently use groundwater from a well in an impact sprinkler and trickle system to irrigate crops and orchards.

Parziale also plans to install a “water-harvesting system” which will include a catchment tank that will store water collected from a rooftop and gutter system, Inouye explained.

Part of his orchard will then be irrigated using the harvested water. Additionally, Inouye pointed out, the use of windbreaks and soil-mulching techniques are utilized to increase the farm’s irrigation efficiencies and reduce the volume of water needed for crop production.

“Water is a precious natural resource that is a good thing to conserve,” Parziale said in accepting his award. “It is not necessary to take from the ground since we live in one of the wettest spots on earth.”

He pointed out that, recently, he read that three-fourths of the water used is used by agriculturalists, and, of this amount, over half is wasted.

Inouye noted that water conservation is not the only practice found at Kauai Authentic Farms. There are numerous examples of both soil and water conservation, because Parziale takes a holistic approach to farming, and appears to consider the environmental effects before implementing his farming practices.

Parziale uses no chemical fertilizers or pesticides, relying on compost and a rotation of green manure crops to rebuild soils and increase fertility while managing pests through the use of mulch and mechanical methods.

Another example of soil conservation is Parziale’s use of berms and vegetative barriers to reduce runoff and erosion, resulting in fewer sediments and no harsh chemicals from his agricultural operation running off and creating stream pollution.

Leaders of the East & West Kauai Soil & Water Conservation Districts annually recognize a Kaua’i farmer, rancher, or representative of an organization who makes an outstanding effort to conserve domestic water by utilizing an alternative source of water supply and innovative irrigation methods.


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