Emergency Kula water systems readied

Two temporary water systems have been established to provide an emergency supply to the Kula Agricultural Park, whose tenants have been conserving water since a siphon break in East Maui Irrigation’s Hamakua ditch system April 24, the county reported Friday.

Maui County Water Supply Director Dave Taylor reported to The Maui News around 3:15 p.m. Friday that the two systems were functioning at that time and that the routing of the water to the park had begun.

“Because of the temporary nature of the system, we are still getting the bugs out and operation may be sporadic,” Taylor said. “We urge the users to be extremely conservative with water usage as we cannot guarantee the operational reliability or the quantity.”

County officials said that they did get a report of water running out at the park about 1 p.m. Friday. The county had predicted that the park’s large reservoir would be empty by Friday afternoon.

One temporary system uses a diesel pump from Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.’s reservoir No. 40 and 600 feet of 8-inch hose to deliver water to the ag park, Taylor said.

The second system uses water from the county’s Piiholo treatment plant, where some water is transferred to a Maui Land & Pineapple Co. 5-million gallon reservoir. The water then is being routed through an old existing line to an HC&S ditch back to the ag park.

Taylor said the county’s Department Water Supply crews took the lead in planning and installation with the county’s Wastewater Division supplying the pump and the hose.

HC&S is allowing the use of the water from its reservoir, and ML&P is allowing utilization of its reservoir and pipe system, Taylor added. EMI also is involved in the collaborative effort, Taylor said.

The siphon break affected the ag park’s more than half-dozen farmers as well as EMI’s sister company, HC&S. The state’s lone remaining sugar company could not water 3,100 acres of sugar cane.

EMI and HC&S officials said it is difficult to give a timeline on the completion of the repairs that have been ongoing since the break. Difficulties in repairing the siphon include access to the site, which is steep, and the use of concrete in the repair process, officials said.

The tenants in the ag park lease the land from Maui County.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.