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Maui Selected for EPA’s Green Streets Program

February 7, 2013, 9:25 AM HST · Updated February 8, 2:02 PM
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Piilani Highway through Kaupo, file photo by Wendy Osher.

Piilani Highway through Kaupo, file photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

Maui County is among a short list of communities throughout the US that will receive technical assistance from the US Environmental Protection Agency in meeting sustainability goals.

Maui is one of 43 communities that were selected through a competitive process to receive the agency’s assistance through its Building Blocks program, and one of only five communities in the nation to be selected for help through the program’s Green Streets Strategy.

Green streets capture and filter storm water runoff with vegetation and soils instead of moving water in underground pipe networks. A green street decreases water pollution while beautifying neighborhoods with additional vegetation and also helps reduce flooding.

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The assistance for Maui’s small towns and rural areas will explore potential code changes that promote walkable communities and encourage investment in existing neighborhoods while preserving rural land and open space.

EPA staff and national experts will conduct workshops as part of the effort, assisting Maui in developing strategies for greening streets by adapting national best practices and case studies to a local context.

The projects are aimed at sustainable growth that encourages local economic development while safeguarding health and the environment.

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“If we want a healthier environment and a stronger economy, sustainable practices must be part of community development across the country,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

“EPA’s technical assistance will help the County of Maui make smart planning choices to protect the way of life on Maui while building a foundation for sustained economic growth in the decades to come,” said US Senator Brian Schatz as he joined in announcing the grant.  “Managing growth in a way that is economically and environmentally sustainable is critical for Hawaii’s future. I congratulate Mayor Arakawa and the County of Maui,” he said.

Fellow US Senator Mazie K. Hirono also offered congratulations to Maui saying, “Maui County should be commended for its smart growth strategies that encourage sustainable economic growth while protecting Hawaii’s natural resources. This EPA partnership is precisely the type of far-thinking approach that will pay dividends for decades to come,” she said.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, called sustainability “imperative for Hawai`i.”  She continued saying, “it is the right thing to do and it is essential for the future and security of all of our communities.  Conservation of our land and protection of our water supply is critical, and we must make investments now to maintain our quality of life and economy. This grant assistance from the Environmental Protection Agency will help the County of Maui promote responsible growth while preserving its precious rural land.”

Each technical assistance project in a community will include: public engagement through a one-to two-day workshop; direct consultation with relevant decision-makers; and a memo outlining specific steps the community could take to implement the ideas generated during the site visit.

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