Water bottling plant proposed

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald The Hawaii County Planning Commission will entertain discussion about a possible water bottling facility opening near Wailoa Park at the intersection of Piilani and Mililani Streets.

The Hawaii County Planning Commission will entertain discussion about a possible water bottling facility opening near Wailoa Park.

The proposed facility, located at the intersection of Piilani and Mililani Streets, will extract groundwater via 1,050-foot-deep wells and package such water for local distribution, according to a project assessment filed with the Hawaii County Planning Department.

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According to the project’s hydrological assessment, the plant will draw from an artesian aquifer located approximately 1,050 feet below the surface. That water will be bottled and distributed to “various local and non-local markets,” according to county documents.

If completed, the facility is expected to employ eight workers to support the plant between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays.

After permitting issues are resolved, the assessment estimates that the construction of the plant could be completed within one year, at the cost of $2.5 million.

At a meeting of the Windward Planning Commission earlier this month, the company behind the project, Piilani Partners LLC (formerly known as Suisan Company, LTD), submitted a series of applications for a Special Management Area Use Permit to allow the company to build a well on the site. All of those applications were deferred, to be addressed at a later meeting.

However, the plan is not without some pushback. One woman, Hilo resident Cory Harden, argued at the meeting that the plant would be detrimental to the area, the state and the environment.

“The environment doesn’t need another water bottling plant,” Harden said.

The plant, Harden said, is liable to generate a significant amount of plastic waste — according to planning documents, the plant would be able to harvest and supply up to 200,000 gallons of water per day, or more than 1.2 million 20 oz. bottles per day — that will eventually make its way into the ocean.

Furthermore, Harden said, the aquifer was described by the Hawaii Office of Planning as “fresh, irreplaceable and highly vulnerable to contamination.”

However, according to planning documents, the project appears to be in accordance with county environmental policies. The plant is predicted to make negligible impacts on air quality and the only other potential environmental impact planning documents cite is potential rain runoff.

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The plant will be discussed further at a future public meeting of the Windward Planning Commission.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com

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