North Kohala Water Will Take More Time
More time is needed to repair the Kohala ditch. The farmers are hurting. Temporary repairs have restored the water service supplied to Waimea from the Upper Hamakua ditch. This service was cut off by damage from the Oct 15th, 2006 earthquake. Through the years after the Kohala Sugar Co. went out of business the Kohala water ditch became unprofitable. The system was a 22 miles long system of ditches, pipes, flumes and tunnels at one time. Through years of troubles the system eventually measured 15 miles. Income was $60,000 from water sales and $180,000 from Flumin Da Ditch. Flumin Da Ditch sustained damage from the earthquake which necessitated it’s closing. It will be a big job to get those kayaks back into that clear forest water. The repairs include $2 million in federal money, $500,000 from the state, $500,000 from Hawaii County, $342,000 from Kamehameha Schools, and $100,000 from AT&T. The water in the ditch flows via gravity. The earthquake caused landslides which have filled the ditch with dirt and debris. Farmers are currently surviving using well water. With the severely limited water, farmers have cut back. Dairy's have had to buy feed, rather than use their un-irrigated fields. The Kohala Crawfish farm has been hard hit. The farms five one acre ponds are dry. In the Honokaa area problems resulted when the intake pipes in the Waipio Valley were blocked and the water that was headed to the lower Hamakua ditch instead went into the supposedly abandoned Lalakea Ditch. This ditch served the farmers down the coast, but it’s reserection hurt the supply to the natural course of the water, over the Hiilawe Falls and on to serve farmers in the Waipio Valley. Govenor Lingle proclaimed that the Lalakea Ditch should stay open for now. Lower Hamakua Ditch water flows for only 6 miles before it is absorbed by the forest. The ditch water should come from 3 intakes in Waipio Valley. The intakes are in territory so difficult to reach that no Hawaii Island company could do it. Royal Contracting of Honolulu took the job. The Upper Hamakua ditch in flowing through 2 plastic pipes which have been temporarily strung across a small valley where a flume got wrecked in the earthquake.
The Kohala Ditch provides should provide water to 70 customers on 8000 acres. It now delivers only 5% of the water it should.
The Upper Hamakua Ditch provides water to 110 customers on 550 acres.
The Lower Hamakua Ditch provides water to 200 customers on 6000 acres. It is estimated that it will cost $15 Million to repair the upper and lower ditches.