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Living the Dream on Hawai’i Island

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The Lava has come and gone, as it has for millions of years. Some folks are heading back to the mainland or Alaska after losing their homes to the will of Pele, goddess of lava. Many farm families shrug off the inconvenience of access roads to markets that are still blocked by lava.  They continue planting and harvesting, bringing papayas and avocados, rambutan and coconuts to the farmer’s markets. Everyone in the farming community hopes the local authorities will rebuild all major roads instead of routing dump-trucks, short-bed trucks and cars along narrow forest tracks better suited for bicycles and pedestrians. Surely, the roads will be repaired as in other disaster areas in the United States. Change is part of life; everyone copes.

People still dream of living on this mostly rural island and they are snapping up property. The Island of Hawai’i attracts newcomers and people from other parts of the state because of its relatively lower cost of living compared to Honolulu and Oahu. Puna, the southern district on Hawai’i Island affected by the 2018 lava flow, is said to be one of the fastest growing area on Big Island. The skies are clear again, the lava gone, quakes finished and the living is easy.

Some families are leaving the island, selling their dream houses and businesses.  Others changed their lifestyle and moved closer to Hilo, trading fire ants for fine arts.

One friend is headed back to Europe.  She is selling her gorgeous one acre estate with splendid house and many ornamental trees, notably a mature Bismarckia palm.

Bismarckia nobilis is a slow-growing majestic tree named for the first chancellor of the German Empire Otto von Bismarck. The is particularly poignant to me because with considerable effort, I dug the hole for my own small Bismarckia palm a few years ago. The space needed for my young palm and its bulbous root system was about 61 cm (24 inches) deep by 61 cm across which I excavated through dense lava rock from the 1955 lava flow.

Bismarkia nobilis

Alas, my Bismarckia perished in 2018 because of poisoned air during the lava inundation.  Lava didn’t smother or burn it, the noxious VOG , a by-product of the eruption, killed the palms, ornamentals and other trees.

A few photos of my friend’s piece of paradise are below and the listing is here.  I wish I had the resources to buy her house with the thriving Bismarckia nobilis in view of the lanai.

 

House and palmsBismarckia nobilis from lanaiBismarckia from bath

 

 

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Who owns your water?

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Water privatization hasn’t been explored much in the general consumer media in the US, although there are articles in the scientific and water industry press.  Water privatization generally refers to private contract operations of water systems owned by public utilities, however a few municipal water systems are moving to private ownership, usually when a corporation can provide economic incentives to a community that can be used for other expenses such as schools, parks, etc. in exchange for managing/partially owning a water system.

A cursory glance at the topic on the internet reveals that water privatization is a fundamental issue for the anti-government fringe by whatever fanciful name is currently in vogue — Tea Party, Tory Party, Whigs, Tipacanoe and Tyler Too?  The No Nothing Party has the right name.

U.S. water privatization is on the waste water side, especially municipal waste water systems.

One outstanding example of a private water system is in Auburn, Alabama.  Set up in the early 1980’s before changes to the tax law in 1986 killed private initiative investments, Auburn’s water system has been studied by universities, used as a model of successful privatization of public works.  Indianapolis, Indiana  is another waste water system operated on a contract basis, with private investment.  U.S. municipalities embracing privitization include Syracuse, N.Y. , Georgetown, Kentucky, Coral Gables, Fl. and Santa Margarita, Calif.

Currently,  U.S. municipalities are underfunded for infrastructure (including water systems) maintenance,  investment and repairs so they are encouraging private investment to fill the breach.  Multinationals  — particularly French and British water companies — are aggressively looking for water utilities to manage on a contract basis with a view to partial or full ownership in the future.

It would be useful for people in the U.S. to know who owns their local waste water operations and water supply systems.  There may be public-private arrangements where a local government council sets regulations, but who picks up the profit on your flush? Entrepreneurial operators are making an impact as their contract operations managers save money through economies of scale and engineer water plants to work more efficiently.

Written by patwa

01/04/2013 at 6:30 pm

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