Maui Discussion

Ask the Mayor: Why Have We Not Built a Desalination Plant?

May 25, 2015, 7:17 AM HST
* Updated June 1, 8:24 AM
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water_cropped2Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.

Dear Mayor,

Q: Why have we not built a desalination plant on Maui? The increase in the economic flow would most likely make up for the cost in a few years. Israel is so far ahead of us in that. So are several other countries. Water, water, everywhere….

A: At first glance, it might appear that desalination could be a useful way to obtain a seemingly endless supply of fresh water. However, in speaking with our water director, it is clear that desal is not currently a viable option for Maui County for several reasons.

There are environmental issues on how to dispose of the residual salt brine, and the process requires the use of a substantial amount of energy. These reasons make it difficult to justify, especially given the fact that Maui is actually blessed with an abundance of fresh water–the real issue is having adequate infrastructure to harvest it at the source and distribute it to residential areas.

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Submit your questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email at [email protected], by phone at 270-7855 or by mail to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the Ask the Mayor column.

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