‘Last straw’: BWS chief engineer Ernie Lau joins water advocates in Red Hill protest

“It’s time for me to come out of the box and not be a typical government official that stays in his office.”
Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 11:18 PM HST

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the first time, Board of Water Supply Chief Engineer Ernie Lau joined dozens of water advocates at a Red Hill protest Friday outside the State Health Department.

They’re calling for immediate action by the Navy following a toxic fire suppressant foam spill earlier this week.

The substance that spilled was identified as Aqueous Film Forming Foam or AFFF.

Health officials said AFFF contains forever chemicals that could be devastating to Hawaii’s aquifer.

“It’s the tipping point or the last straw,” Lau said. “It’s time for me to come out of the box and not be a typical government official that stays in his office.”

Lau said this is his first time protesting with nonprofit Oahu Water Protectors but he wants to publicly support the group’s effort to pressure the Navy.

“They may not be happy that I’m expressing concern or a degree of frustration that I haven’t express before,” Lau said.

“I’ll continue to work with them but I’m letting you know, I’m gonna hold them accountable.”

Many people at the protest said Lau joining them was a morale boost.

“Having him here rejuvenates our spirits,” said one of the protesters.

Lau told Hawaii News Now his appearance at today’s Red Hill Protest is just the beginning.

On Dec. 10, he plans to lead a march to the Naval Facilities Engineering Command outside Joint Base Pearl Harbor.