On May 30, 2010 the Honolulu Star Bulletin (now Star Advertiser) reported that Mercer generated eco-city rankings rating the livability quotient of major world cities, and “Honolulu came in second at 145.1 points, right behind Calgary” in Canada.

Eco-City Ranking 2010 includes the following criteria: Water availability, water potability, waste removal, sewage, air pollution and traffic congestion.

Water availability and potability are provided by the aina and have little to do with city administration actions. In fact, archaic water proportioning has forced the Board of Water Supply to manage about one quarter of Oahu’s total water capacity.

Thanks to this biased apportioning of potable water resources Oahu may be forced to install desalination plants if its population exceeds one million people, while Oahu’s aquifers can provide enough water for about four million people,

In addition Oahu’s aging water distribution system experiences many failures as evidenced by the frequent water main breaks. According to BWS, there were an average of 364 breaks between 2005 and 2009, or one water main break per day!

Water main breaks affect water supply and quality, cause congestion, destroy roads and in some cases flood businesses and residences.

Honolulu is undeniably top ranked in air quality thanks to our location and wind patterns. Suspiciously however we spend 4 times as much money to buy hybrid buses instead of regular ones to gain no measurable pollution advantage or any bottom line savings.

Traffic congestion is bad but the average commute on Oahu is under 30 minutes, making it a fairly short one compared to large cities.

As for waste removal and sewage, a lack of investigation by Mercer and perhaps misleading reporting by the county has painted a rosy picture whereas the real condition is substandard.

Bottom line, nature blesses Honolulu with a stellar eco-city ranking and festering issues of trash, sewage, water management and traffic management are clear threats to its long term lead in eco-city ranking.

Panos Prevedouros is a professor of traffic engineering at the UH and a candidate for mayor

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