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March 27, 2001

Update on Waimanalo Reservoir Controversy

Honolulu - The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) would like to set the record straight regarding the allegations made recent by the Waimanalo Neighborhood Board No. 32 and State Senator Fred Hemmings regarding improvements to the Waimanalo Reservoir. Allegations charged by both have all been determined to be false. Work on the project is scheduled to resume today.

ALLEGATIONS: On March 7, 2001, the Waimanalo Neighborhood Board No. 32 and State Senator Fred Hemmings publicly charged HDOA with failing to obtain proper permits from the Corps of Engineers, diverting funds from legislatively appropriated projects and damaging "archeological landmarks." They further charged that the U.S. Corps of Engineers "shut down" the project due to the lack of permits from the Corps.

FACTS: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has confirmed its previous determination and determinations by HDOA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) that no permits were necessary for the Waimanalo Outlet Channel repair. At no time did the Corps of Engineers shut down the project. It was HDOA that issued a stop-work order when charcoal was reportedly found on the site.

A Corps of Engineers' report (dated March 13, 2001) determined that the project is not subject to regulation by the Corps under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and that commencement of the project did not constitute a violation of the CWA. Further, the report states that any recommendation to issue a Cease and Desist Notice or Notice of Violation is without merit.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service also issued a report (dated March 14, 2001) determining that the charcoal at the site "was found not to be a historical property and not associated with any event significant in Hawaii history or prehistory, is not associated with any individual significant in Hawaiian history or prehistory, does not possess high artistic value, is not likely to yield information important in history or prehistory, does not have important cultural value to the native Hawaiian people or to another ethnic group of the state." Adjacent to the charcoal, archeologist found rubber vehicle tires and evidence of prior bulldozing.

As the department asserted earlier, there was no "diversion of funds from other legislatively authorized projects," as charged in the news release by the Waimanalo Neighborhood Board. The state's share totaling $325,000, was appropriated for the Waimanalo Irrigation System Drainage Improvements project under Capital Project No. HA0001, as Authorized by Act 91, SLH 1999, Item A-5, as Amended by Act 281, SLH 2000, Item A-5. The federal portion was appropriated by the U.S. Congress in PL83-566 (Watershed Protection Act).

ALLEGATION: The Waimanalo Reservoir is "empty" and an "environmental and fiscal disaster."

FACT: The Waimanalo Reservoir is an active 60-million gallon reservoir serving about 90 farmers on 600 acres of Waimanalo farmland. The department can only surmise that there is confusion regarding the reservoirs, since the abandoned Kailua Reservoir is located a short distance away.


  • The Waimanalo Watershed project is a joint effort by HDOA, Department of Land and Natural Resources (State of Hawaii), the Windward Oahu Soil and Water Conservation District, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The agreement was dated September 4, 2000 and it was agreed that the estimated cost of the work would total $650,000, half of which would be funded by the State of Hawaii and the other half funded by the NRCS.
  • The repairs focused on stabilizing the embankment from erosion that threatened the integrity of the reservoir. HDOA issued a stop-work order on March 6, 2001 after Envirowatch reported seeing charcoal at the site. NRCS cultural resources personnel and State Historic Preservation personnel were called to the site to determine if the charcoal was of any historical or cultural significance.
  • A total of 34 government agencies and community organizations reviewed the Environmental Impact Statement issued for the project. This group included the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, which included the Dam Safety Office, the State Historical Preservation Division and the Aquatic Resources Division.