Raise Your Voice Against Anaergia/MANA’s Digester Facility

Maui County is contracting w/ Anaergia Services, LLC via its local Maui company MANA, LLC (Maui All Natural Alternatives) to build a waste digester power plant.


  1.  Get water from A&B to –
  2. Grow sorghum crops on A&B land to –
  3. Harvest the crops to –
  4. Bring the crops to Kahului to –
  5. Put in their not-yet-built $20 million waste digester plant to –
  6. Create biogas to power the Wailuku-Kahului Reclamation Facility (WKWWRF) next to it.

THEN: Anaergia will use the heat from the digester to dry all of Maui’s human sludge (excrement) and make it into fertilizer pellets to sell back to Maui residents. And the plant will  be located in the tsunami evacuation zone.

Sierra Club Maui submitted comments on this project, back in late 2016 when the County Council’s Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee (IEM) was considering a resolution authorizing a lease to Anaergia for this facility. Then, very quickly, the lease resolution was pinched out of the IEM Committee by Council member Don Couch and Chair Mike White, and brought before the full Council in the last meeting of 2016, where the lease was approved without further discussion. In January 2017, some new council members were sworn into office who likely would have put up a fight against rubber stamping this lease – so the actions in December 2016 ensured the new council members couldn’t stop the project.

Flash forward to January 2018. Anaergia/MANA has submitted a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to the county, which must be approved before the project can move forward, and they are holding a public meeting on Wednesday, January 24th for the public to learn about the project.

We urge Sierra Club Maui members and supporters to attend this meeting and to voice concern with this project.

At first glance, the project might look eco-conscious and economically viable – but when you delve into the details, it becomes very clear this project is, in a nut shell, going to lead to a lot of money spent for little-to-probably no improvement, while getting in the way of real improvement in the county’s usage of renewable energy and fiscal responsibility.

There are more efficient, safer, and CHEAPER ways to power the Wailuku-Kahului Wastewater Reclamation Facility (WKWWRF) with renewable energy, like:

  1. Use solar power and battery storage (there was a much more affordable project planned with Haleakala Solar that was unceremoniously cancelled by the county, after which the Anaergia project was announced)***
  2. Harness biogas from existing compost and trash on the island (Maui currently has no industrial compost heap, food goes into the trash stream)

***The cost of electrical generation for the cancelled solar PV project with Haleakala Solar at WKWWTF would have provided energy at about half the cost of Anaergia’s project. The solar PV project was cancelled by former Dept. of Environmental Management Director Kyle Ginoza after Haleakala Solar had already done $75,000 in design work. At that time, solar energy would have cost about 15.9 cents/kwh for the first year, compared with Anaergia’s 29 cents/kwh. And since then, MECO’s latest Purchase Power Agreement for solar has dropped to 11.7 cents/kwh (with cost of storage factored in, the final price would be higher, but it would still cost much less than 29 cents/kwh).


Here are our concerns that we gave to the Council in 2016 and that are still very valid today:

  1. Cost: Initially, Maui County would pay for electricity at a rate close to that of today’s oil-based electricity from MECO, but with a contracted rate increase of 2.2% per year for twenty years. Without a doubt, within five or ten years the county will be kicking itself for committing to such an exorbitant price for electricity as the cost of renewable energy continues to fall (and solar is already well below even the starting price). At face value, the proposal may sound economical because Anaergia and its subsidiary assume the cost of building the power plant. However, there is no reason to consider Anaergia to be a charitable organization. Its calculation of the charges to Maui County are based on recouping the $20M construction costs, costs for permitting, costs for running the plant for 20 years (including energy crops), and profits. Rather than a great deal, this can be considered a loan at very high interest to the county. If the project made sense for other reasons, it would be more cost-efficient to issue a bond or seek grants and finance it without contracting Anaergia.
  2. Location: There was agreement at a 2016 hearing, including by Director Stewart Stant, that the location which would host the power plant, being at sea level and in a tsunami zone, is a poor choice. The county has been thinking about moving the WKWRF inland. Director Stant said it is more urgent to move the Wailuku Pumping Station, which supplies waste to WKWRF (Wailuku Kahului Wastewater Reclamation Facility), than to move WKWRF itself. However, one does not exclude the other. Adding a power plant to the existing WKWRF means, 1) it will be much more difficult to move WKWRF, and 2) it canʻt be moved until 20 years after the power plant is online (which itself is likely years away).
  3. Green Waste Disposal Costs: Currently, EKO collects and combines green waste with sludge to produce compost, which it then sells. Removing the lucrative sludge element from the county’s contract with EKO may cause EKO to terminate its remaining green waste contract, as green waste alone has very little resale value. The county would need to contract with a new entity that will collect only green waste; this entity will likely charge a much higher rate per ton because the new entity will need to apply for permits, as well as provide its own location and industrial equipment because EKO’s current location may become a landfill site; with the resale value of green waste so low, the entity will need to charge sky high prices to make a profit. We urge you to pay close attention to the timeline of when EKO’s contract may terminate and when the county could feasibly have a replacement green waste collection entity online. By state law, green waste is not allowed in the landfill, so the county cannot throw away green waste while waiting for a new composting program to come online. [In news articles like this one, county officials claims that the MANA project will bring down costs, but they always fail to mention that the reason why EKO costs are high is because the county wouldn’t give EKO a contract that would last more than 2 years.]
  4. Alternatives: Director Stant said that the reason for proposing the electricity generating plant for the WKWRF instead of the Kihei Wastewater Reclamation Facility is that the Kihei facility already has an excess of solar power during the day but has no way to store the power for use in the evening and at night. A much more cost-efficient investment would be to add battery storage to the Kihei facility. Combining solar and storage at Kihei could be a pilot project which could then be replicated at the other facilities.
  5. Community input: County’s Corporation Counsel said there is no room for public input during contract negotiation for services (which she said is 95% done). However, collecting public information and input only after a contract is finalized is an expensive and cumbersome model which generally leads to community dissatisfaction.


These were our concerns regarding the Environmental Impact Statement Preparation Notice, which are still very relevant for the Draft EIS:

  1. Conflict of Interest: Currently, the county is both the proposing agency and the accepting agency, which is a clear conflict of interest. Because the project will be built on state-owned land, we ask that a state agency be the accepting agency. This will resolve this conflict of interest.
  2. Third Party Consultation: We are concerned that this project’s FEIS has not been outsourced to a non-partial third party consultant. If MANA researches and writes its own FEIS, it is very unlikely that potentially serious concerns will be highlighted and examined and that feasible alternatives will be given fair consideration.
  3. Local knowledge: We are concerned that because no local expert consultants have been hired to assess all potential environmental and cultural impacts (especially on the local bird populations in the Kanahā Wildlife Sanctuary) that the FEIS will be severely lacking in important local expertise. We would like to see local avian experts brought on board to analyze this project.
  4. Tsunami Zone: We are very worried about not only placing more expensive long-term infrastructure in the tsunami zone but also the effects it may have on the environment if a tsunami or extreme flooding event happens. If a catastrophe occurs, how will MANA mitigate the risk of waste, flammable gas, and other toxic emissions escaping from the facility into the surrounding industrial and residential areas?
  5. MECO: How will the county negotiate with MECO to take the WKWWRF off its grid? What might be the exit costs of taking the facility off the grid?
  6. Energy Analysis: For the “Identification of Alternatives,” we would like independent energy and waste consultants who have no connection to MANA to create a more robust list of potential alternatives and analysis of their pros and cons.
  7. Carbon and methane footprint: While the facility will create energy from renewable resources, we have doubts as to whether it will actually reduce our carbon and methane footprint. We would like the FEIS to contain a complete analysis of the full carbon and methane footprint of the facility, as well as a listing of any VOC emissions that may occur.

Makena Resort Testimony by Sierra Club Maui Group

Review Board
Re: Agenda item 2 ATC Makena Holdings SMA permit

Aloha Chair Conrad and UDRB members

Sierra Club Maui has reviewed proposed projects in the Makena Area for over 35 years.

According to the Maui UDRB Checklist of Standard Concerns one area of evaluation is the relationship of architectural and building design on historic areas. The historic area of the Makena region are discussed in the Kihei-Makena Community Plan Cultural Resources section. These recommendations are being ignored by this project. SMA permits require conformance to the relevant community plan and protection of historic and cultural resources. The project has had inadequate cultural review as scores of public testifiers pointed out at the Planning Commission meeting of Jan 26, 2016.

We ask the UDRB to advise the Maui Planning Commission to follow the policies of the Kihei Makena Community Plan and require this project to:

1) Protect and allow pedestrian access the along the right of ways for two extremely important historic roads/pathways: Makena-Ulupalakua Road (ca. 1850’s) and the ‘Aupuni road from Ulupalakua to Keawala’i church/ Keawakapu Bay (built by Kamehameha II CA 1830’s).Both roads will be obliterated by large buildings in the current project design. Building C and a recreational complex will wipe out the 1930‘s Makena-Ulupalakua Road. Building M and a condo cluster obliterate the pat of the ‘Aupuni

2) Protect and permit cultural access and use for a cluster of historic sites referred to as the “Makena Landing Sites” in the Community Plan and shown on the Cultural Resources Map adopted along with the Kihei-Makena Community Plan

3) Protect all the historic walls on the 47 acre site through inclusion in the project’s Historic Preservation Plan. Currently there are three separate distinct wall alignments identified on the property. Sites 7054 (250 m long) and 7063 (79 m long- actually both are continuations of the same wall, according to kupuna interviews) 7068 (100 m. long) , 7088 (85 m long) , 7075 (‘Aupuni wall, ca. 1830’s 100 m.

4) Have the project’s Historic Preservation Plan reviewed by the Maui Cultural Resources Commission before SMA hearing, so the CRC can advise the Planning Commission on their decision.

5) Have a full EIS prepared since the the current Draft EA concludes that “there will be no significant impact on historic or cultural sites.” The DEA does not acknowledge that the two historic roads will be obliterated, that only 4 of the 11 Makena Landing sites shown on the Kihei-Makena Community Plan and recommended for preservation are proposed for preservation in the current DEA.

Mahalo for you time and consideration of our legacy resources.

Conservation Chair, Sierra Club Maui

Sierra Club Maui’s comments on Makena Resort Development Draft EA

From Sierra Club Maui Group
PO Box 791180
Paia,HI 96779

Re: Comment on Makena Resort Development Draft EA

Greetings Planning Commissioners, Planning Staff, Consultants and Applicants

Sierra Club Maui has a number of concerns about the Draft EA for Makena Resort. It is lacking key information and also has statements regarding planned commitments in one section,that are never refered to in the body of the report. It’s as if the DEA discuses two different plans. We were not asked to be involved in the early consultation process for the Draft EA.

The project appears too dense for the steep sloped terrain of the site. Extensive cut and fill is shown on the engineering maps to allow all the buildings to fit. This is a risky design option in this location and the DEA does not even discuss the volumes of cut and fill involved. No alternative project designs that could minimize the amount of cut and fill needed are actually analyzed in the DEA. Instead, we are informed that the consultants looked at some options and settled on the design presented in the DEA. The means the public and decision makers have nothing to review or discuss on the topic of Alternative Designs.

Any potential drainage problems appear to be dismissed in the DEA with assumption that drainage basins, underground storage, swales and bio-retention and other mitigations will always function perfectly. There is simply not one example of that happening on Maui, but that possibility is not discussed.

Many Planning Commission members and the public were concerned about the proposed project’s water supply. The DEA merely says that the applicants are in discussion with the County DWS to confirm a water source. This provides no analyses of what impacts the water demands of the project may have on public trust fresh or brackish waters.
Irrigation for the site is projected at an average of 129,000 gpd. This will come from Makena Resort non-potable (brackish) wells in the Makena golf course offsite of the project. The DEA does not indicate what the capacity of those wells are; if additional pumping is expected to affect their salinity levels; or if testing has been done to determine if increased pumping would affect underground flows to the nearshore waters.

This level of missing information does not appear to meet the standards set by HAR 11-200-10.

Similarly the DEA gives no information about the current and near future demands on the private Makena Wastewater facility. All we are told is that it has a 720,000 gpd capacity and the proposed project will only generate 50,000 gpd of effluent to send to the plant. Public information tells us that the Makena Beach and Golf Club is expanding its residences and spa and proposing a new small hotel, but the DEA does not mention how much wastewater plant capacity that project will need. It is also public knowledge that the neighboring Honua’ula development (1150 to 1400 units) is planning to use the Makena Wastewater Plant. This is never mentioned in the wastewater analyses in the DEA.

How can decision makers conclude that the project has “no significant impacts” if they have no real comparative information concerning water resources, sewage system impacts etc. to base that review on?

The DEA has Traffic Analyses that assumes 90% (133) of the 148 residential unit will be owned by offshore investors who will only utilize the properties 20% of the time. (around 80 residents at any one time plus 40 TVR guests.) There is not an alternative traffic scenario analyses offered that would assume that these ocean view units would be rented out when owners were not using them, like thousands of other Maui beach area properties.

It defies logic that a whole shopping village will be constructed to serve around 200 residents and whatever visitors come by. How will these businesses survive? The DEA does not discuss the possibility that the Makena Village will not be built later until the upper properties of Makena are developed and the new boutique hotel and luxury condos on the Maui Prince site are built. If that is the case, then those projects should definitely be discussed along with the 47 acre project in a new,full EIS.

No recreational use study of the area is provided in the DEA, yet it concludes that the project conforms to the objectives of the Coastal Zone Management permit it seeks to obtain.

Likewise the DEA concludes that no viewplanes from pubic roads will be impacted. The DEA does acknowledge that Makena Alanui Road, in the vicinity of the project site, is listed as a “high” value scenic corridor by the County of Maui’s Maui Island Plan. What is lacking is a realistic analyses of the project’s impacts on the scenic views.

The DEA has a map which shows many 40’ to 50’ condominiums to be built along the mauka boundary of this SMA project and the heights of the buildings are discussed. The buildings appear to be crowded up against the highway, due to the steeply sloped land and the limited areas for large buildings. This maximizes the views from the condo apartments at the expense of the general public traveling along the Makena Alanui road. The buildings are generally parallel to the highway, rather than perpendicular, which would allow more space (views) between the buildings.

The DEA has maps which show the elevation of the highway immediately mauka of the many buildings and the base elevation of each building. These maps clearly show that these 4 to 50 ft high buildings will totally block the majority of any possible view from the highway in the ocean direction.

The DEA has some very misleading diagrams showing extensive view corridors between the various proposed condo buildings. Current views are described as “blocked by foliage.” We do not agree. We lead Sierra Club hikes in this area and recently made a video of the experience of walking along the Makena Alanui side walk from the north to south end of the project site. The video shows that this section of the road currently provides great scenic views for pedestrians and motorists along the route. South Maui views of the ocean have been very impacted by luxury coastal residences. The DEA should be discussing alternative project designs, building heights and and densities that would mitigate this potential loss of public views.

In reading the Design Guidelines for the project it is clear that the guidelines focus is to protect the views of the owners of future luxury units, even if the views for the general public are being sacrificed.

HAR 11-200-12 “Significance criteria” notes that if a proposed project “Substantially affects scenic vistas and viewplanes,an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) needs to be prepared and an Environmental Assessment is not considered sufficient to mitigate impacts.
Scenic vistas and view planes must be discussed and mitigated in an EIS. There are alternatives that could be explored.

Cultural practitioners tell us that many important cultural sites are still unrecorded on the property and other sites are recorded, but are not properly documented to reveal their true significance. We are also concerned that the DEA makes no provision for the protection of the historic Makena-Ulupalakua road.

The Planning Commission needs to decide if this project will have no significant impacts (FONSI), or if its overall and cumulative effects shall, among other things: involve an irrevocable commitment to loss or destruction of any natural or cultural resource. HAR 11-200-12 Significance criteria notes that any project that involves that loss, must prepare a full EIS.

The Project area includes Maui’s most famous historic road, the Makena Landing-Ulupalakua Road, originally constructed in the 1850’s through a specific right of way, Royal Patent 223 granted to Linton Torbert by Kamehmeha III. This road has been used by many generations of Maui residents and many famous visitors to Rose Ranch in Ulupalakua, such as King Kalakaua and Robert Louis Stevenson.

The Makena DEA map shows that the makai portion of Grant 223 passes right through Parcel M-5 of the proposed development. The Makena-Ulupalakua Road is shown on the TMK map for the property. It is visible on Google Earth. In the Archaeological Survey, it was given a site number (7057) and evaluated as having site significance Criterion “A” which means it is a “Site associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad pattern of history.” Why can’t this project find a design that protects this important historic site rather than replace it with a luxury condo building, “members-only” pool and “shade hale” that no one on Maui needs?
The DEA does not discuss any alternative project designs that would include preservation of the road corridor .

The loss of this portion of an iconic historical road is not even discussed in the DEA, Nor is the fate of the remainder of the road right of way mauka of the project site on Makena Resort land. No mitigation is offered. Under the 1892 Highways Act, this road is considered a public road, and entitled to preservation.

Many Sierra Club members and supporters who grew up here on Maui have used the Makena-Ulupalakua Road, just like generations of our ancestors. If it disappears, a part of our history and culture is lost forever, in order to create expensive condos for mainland investors.

Historic roads are also considered worthy of protection under the Kihei-Makena Community Plan. The Plan has objectives under the “Cultural Resources” section that requires development projects to: “Preserve and restore historical roads and paths as cultural resources, and require such resources to be available to the public.”

The Kihei-Makena Plan also directs that “Ancient Trails/Old Government Roads” in the South Maui area “should be identified for preservation…” The Community Plan specifically described Makena Landing, where this road led as “one of the three busiest leeward ports of Maui in the nineteenth century” because many steamers stopped there.

The “Makena Landing sites” are also noted as worthy of preservation by name in the Cultural Resources section of the Plan. These are recorded on a cultural resources map that is an adopted part of the Kihei-Makena community plan.

Sites at Makena Landing recorded in the 1970’s and 1980s are shown on that map. They are labelled “Makena Landing Sites.” They include around a dozen sites on the 47 acre property proposed for this development. Only 4 of these 11 sites across the 47 acres are proposed to be preserved in the Makena Resort AIS and DEA. Two of the seven are slated for “data recovery” before destruction. The importance of these sites to the community is never acknowledged in the DEA or the AIS.

Other historically known and recorded significant sites also are found on this land. Site 7075 is on Parcel B-2. It is a portion of the ‘Aupuni (Kingdom Government) wall constructed by Hawaii’s longest ruling monarch, Kamehameha III. It’s located near the Kalani Heiau site (the heiau is on a privately owned parcel.) This wall is one of the few remaining public works project of the Kingdom era in south Maui. It is over 300 feet long and it is not even recognized for its historical importance in the project’s AIS or Draft EA. The ‘Aupuni road was built in a similar era and ran from Ulupalakua to Keawala’i church. No effort was made by the project consultants to even look for any remains of this historically important traditional trail.

The DEA, quoting the project’s Cultural Impact Assessment, denies any cultural use of the site and does not discuss any provisions for cultural access. Preserved sites are seen as “features” in the project’s landscape rather than as part of a cultural landscape that should be designed to protect its cultural integrity and use by future generations. There is no discussion of a project design that respects the presently existing cultural landscape of the Makena Landing Sites and the intent of the Kihei-Makena Community Plan.

The Cultural Impact Assessment has limited and inaccurate information (for example, it states an incorrect location for Pohakuhaha heiau.) While some members of the Makena community were consulted, many younger lineal descendants were never reached. Also, the concerns of members of the project’s Cultural Committee do not appear to be have resulted in clear recommendations in the CIA. The CIA should be supplemented to add the knowledge of more lineal descendants and reflect local desires to protect the ‘aupuni wall and other important cultural features of the area.

The Sustainability Report claims that natural lava outcrops will be retained rather than covered with earth in order to reduce the amount of irrigation needed. Many of the documented and undocumented cultural sites on the 47 acres are associated with these lava outcrops. A more detailed irrigation plan should be presented that indicates natural outcrops that will be avoided and correlates these to sites that are present and can be avoided.

The Design Guideline section of the DEA states that single family lot owners will be required to retain the historic rock walls that past through their lots. This is not consistent with the language in the project’s AIS that grants most of the walls found on the 47 acre site very little significance and proposes no preservation. The walls are a very important part of the Kingdom era on these lands and all should be preserved as part of the SHPD preservation plan, and included in the new project to give it a sense of place.

In closing, we believe that this project as proposed may have a significant effect on the environment since it will negatively affect public view planes, could impact water resources and ocean water quality and will destroy cultural sites that the Kihei-Makena Community Plan recommends for protection. Our laws make it clear that if a project will involve the loss or destruction of any natural or cultural resource, it must complete a full EIS to appropriately disclose and mitigate those impacts. We ask the landowners to follow the law and prepare an EIS for this project that includes an updated AIS and CIA, discusses alternative project designs that protect the cultural landscape, ocean water quality and public viewplanes and includes a discussion of surrounding Makena Resort ands and their relationship to this project.

Mahalo for this opportunity to comment

Lucienne de Naie
Conservation Chair,Sierra Club Maui Group

Farmers Union: Protecting Ag Lands

From the Farmers Union:

I would like to invite you all to attend the Mauna Kahalawai Chapter, Maui Farmers Union Meeting (At the Maui Tropical Plantation) onAugust 20th from 7:00 -8:30 p.m.– where we have put together a Community Educational Seminar on: PROTECTING AGRICULTURAL LANDS IN PERPETUITY.

This type of information in invaluable to all of us in Maui County that care about protecting the land and preserving it for our future generations.

It is all about community participation and knowing how to make your voice count within the planning process.

All it takes from you, is knowing your power and applying proper use of the tools that are at your disposal.

The presentation is just over an hour long and will cover:

• Special Management Areas (SMA)/Coastal Zone Management (CZM)
• Maui Island Plan/Community Plans
• County Zoning
• State Land Use Designations

Followed by:

• The power/importance of Community Plans & Community Plan Updates-community participation
• SMA intervention/Environmental Assessments (EA) & Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) -Citizen Involvement

The goal is to have each and everyone of you walk away with a basic understanding of the framework of land use zoning and uses, as well as, an understanding of what you can do to preserve agricultural land.

Bring a pad of paper and pen. There will be a lot of information covered in a very short span of time.

If it is a good turnout and everyone is interested in getting a bit more in-depth; we will explore putting together another follow up presentation.

6-Story Medical Plaza at Kanaha

AKAKU Crossroads Show
6-Story Medical Plaza at Kanaha
Tuesday, August 5th. 

Irene Bowie, executive director of Maui Tomorrow Foundation, joins host  and Sierra Club Board member, Lucienne deNaie on cable channel 55 from 7:00 to 8:00pm to discuss this controversial project and the state of Hawaii’s wetlands.

Kahoma Villages Comments

Dear Councilmember Carroll,

The Sierra Club, Maui Group has several concerns about the Kahoma Village Subdivision.

The developer is essentially asking to be relieved of his park requirement because he’s making a what amounts to a private park. Because there will be no public parking and no public rest rooms, the park will be mostly inaccessible to residents outside the subdivision. The park will not be able to be used for soccer and Little League.

The developer wants to pay no fees. He wants the taxpayers of Maui County to pay for all the inspections. This is not acceptable.

The developer wants to be relieved of his infrastructure contribution. We have been developing ahead of roads and other infrastructure and it causes traffic jams. It also lets the developer take profits while the taxpayers are left to pay for the required infrastructure. The developer should pay his fair portion of infrastructure costs.

The developer does not want to adhere to Maui County height restrictions. When we start allowing the height to be measured to “finished grade” we allow the same problem as Kahului where the developer built up the land, causing lawsuits and damage to neighboring properties. Let’s not repeat that fiasco. Do not allow the developer to use “finished grade” for his measurements.

Land in this area is over a series of lava tubes and has been subsiding. Is this suitable for building?

This land was used for a construction dump. Are there toxics? Who will pay if they build these homes and they are subsequently found to be contaminated?

The developer wants to be relieved of his duty to supply a bond. We do not understand why the County would allow this.

Green Streets

Maui County, HI has been selected to receive technical assistance to create a green streets strategy as a part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program. 

Read more