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March 9, 2000

Facts About the Department of Agriculture's Plans at the Kailua Reservoir

Honolulu - The State Department of Agriculture (DOA) would like to clarify information regarding the Kailua Reservoir.

The Kailua Reservoir is part of the old Waimanalo irrigation system, which has been abandoned for many years. Due to the deteriorating condition of the reservoir, the DOA, in consultation with the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), has been working on plans to do a controlled breach of the Kailua Reservoir dam.

The project planning has been complicated by multi-agency jurisdictional factors, with different state departments overseeing different portions of the old irrigation system. The DOA has jurisdiction of the reservoir and DLNR has jurisdiction over some of the area below the reservoir.

RM Towill Corporation is the planning and construction consultant for the project. Towill has provided the DOA with a draft Environmental Assessment (EA), which is currently undergoing a 30-day public comment period. The public comment period ends on March 24, 2000.

DOA is providing the following facts to clear up any misinformation about the proposal to breach the reservoir's dam:

  • The DOA and DLNR initiated this project at the request of the Waimanalo community.
  • Any discussion of condemnation procedures is premature because the project is still in the draft EA phase. Depending on the recommendation of the EA, there may or may not be a need for the state to secure easements in order to restore the runoff to its natural state. However, the state is not planning to condemn private property owned by Native Hawaiians.
  • Towill, the project contractor, has never advised the DOA against breaching the dam. A Towill memo dated October 22, 1998 stated Towill's concern that DLNR dam breach computations only involved flood routing through the Kailua Reservoir and did not include assessments of the possible impacts of downstream flooding. The memo also stated that Towill had been informed that DLNR has jurisdiction of the downstream area.
  • The draft EA prepared by Towill found no historical sites in the project area.

In 1992, the DOA recommended to the Hawaii Historic Places Review Board that the nomination of the Kailua (Waimanalo) Ditch System be rejected as a historical place. The DOA testimony cited that the old irrigation system no longer possessed historic integrity because the ditch system has "been greatly modified, in terms of both their structural components and their alignments. The Kailua Ditch System has been completely abandoned and much of it destroyed."

  • Until a final EA has been completed, no action is planned by the DOA. The public comment period for the draft EA is still underway. Currently, DLNR is negotiating a contract for the Waimanalo Valley Drainage Master Plan that will evaluate flood problem areas in the valley, including the Kailua Reservoir, and develop mitigative measures.

"Our main concern is the effect a breach of the dam may have downstream," said James J. Nakatani, Chairperson of the Department of Agriculture. "We definitely do not want to solve one problem and create another. The Waimanalo community can be assured that they will have time to review the plans and provide their comments and concerns."

For more information, please call Janelle Saneishi, Public Information Officer, Department of Agriculture, 973-9560.