It’s a Catch-22 with water safety at Haleakala National Park on Maui. Hawaii warns of a serious contaminant in the park’s water system. At the same time, the state Department of Health says that the water found there remains safe for Hawaii visitors and residents to drink. What will you do if you visit? Let’s look at the problem first.
The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) is reporting that “low levels of 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D)” were recently reported for the first time in the Haleakala National Park public water system. It is part of the Kula Maui system, which also serves that small community.
What concerns us about 2,4-D contaminant at Haleakala.
This 2,4-D is among the least expensive and most common weed killers that was developed by Dow Chemical in the 1940s. It may not be considered safe by today’s different standards. Inconclusive evidence suggests that there may be a link between 2,4-D chronic exposure and cancers, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and others. It is also considered to be endocrine-disrupting.
We know of people who use it freely here in agriculture on Kauai, so finding it in the drinking water at Haleakala doesn’t come as a complete surprise to us. It is widely available online and in stores.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says, “2,4-D is a widely used herbicide that controls broadleaf weeds…. It is used in many places, including turf, lawns, rights-of-way, aquatic sites, forestry sites, and a variety of field, fruit, and vegetable crops. It may also be used to regulate the growth of citrus plants.
The state maintains that the levels of 2,4-D are far less than the EPA and State of Hawai’s maximum contaminant level of 70 parts per billion. DOH said that the amount detected was between 0.26 to 0.39 ppb. They also said that the park’s water, tested as mandated by state and federal drinking water regulations, continues to be in full compliance with all standards.
Hawaii tourism and water.
With Hawaii tourism remaining at or near record levels, inadequate infrastructure and water resources are an ongoing issue. Last year, mandatory water restrictions were implemented in parts of Maui prohibiting improper use of water, including irrigation, lawn watering and washing vehicles.. Fines of up to $500 were imposed for using water for non-essentials. At the same time, the tourism sector saw no water restrictions implemented. Tourism-related water consumption in Hawaii may be close to 50% of all water used in Hawaii.
Tourism activities, including accommodations, resorts, restaurants, and recreational facilities, require substantial water resources to meet the needs of guests and maintain their infrastructure. Additionally, water is used for landscaping, golf courses, swimming pools, and other amenities that are designed to enhance the tourist experience.
Given the importance of tourism to the Hawaiian economy and the reliance on water for various tourism-related activities, it is crucial for the state and the tourism industry to work together to implement sustainable water management practices. This includes promoting water conservation measures in tourism as well as residential areas, implementing efficient water systems, and raising awareness among visitors about responsible water usage.
We’re heading to Haleakala and packing refillable water containers.
As you may have noticed, Beat of Hawaii is traveling at an unprecedented pace this summer to bring coverage of Hawaii travel to you, our readers. We will return to the Big Island this coming week and to Maui in the next month. You can be sure that we plan to bring our water in refillable containers. What would you do?