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ML&P: Honokohau Stream ditch system repaired

The Maui News

Maui Land & Pineapple Co. reported the completion of repairs to the Honokohau Stream ditch system last week that followed complaints from area residents and a call for action by the state water commission.

The company, which made the announcement Monday, said that the damage to the system was caused by Hurricanes Lane and Olivia in 2018. The price tag for the major repairs was $300,000 to $400,000, company officials said.

Water from the ditch is used by the county and runs through its water treatment facility, Kapalua Water Co. and various residents and farmers for drinking, irrigation and fire suppression, the company said in a news release. Damage caused by the hurricanes resulted in irregular and inconsistent water availability due to the extensive flooding, which reduced flows and damaged a critical control gate, the company said.

As part of the restoration process, a full assessment of the ditch system was completed by ML&P engineers and contractors prior to commencing the repair effort in December, the company said. The first phase of the repair project focused on repairing the diversion gate, sluice gate, bridge, access roads and surrounding intake structures. This was completed in early 2020. The second phase of the repairs concentrated on clearing the ditch and siphons of blockages, landslide sediments, debris and fixing leaks in the system; that work was completed last week, the company said.

“The result is a renewed ditch system,” ML&P said. “The repaired areas are less susceptible to leaks, more accessible, and now provides consistent water availability to all of the users.”

ML&P has taken heat from area users and residents, who charge that the company was wasting water from Honokohau Stream. In fact, two groups, Ka Malu o Kahalawai and West Maui Preservation Association, comprising West Maui taro farmers, environmentalists and families, filed a complaint with the state water commission last spring over water shortages.

The complaint alleged that three companies — ML&P, its subsidiary Kapalua Water Co. and Kaanapali Land Management Corp. — were wasting water from Honokohau Stream, which is approximately 11 miles long, starts high in the West Maui Mountains and empties into Honokohau Bay.

The complaint said that water that could have been used by valley residents was being mismanaged or dumped, citing the failure of the companies to properly maintain infrastructure.

On Nov. 20, the state Commission on Water Resource Management unanimously approved recommendations for ML&P to upgrade a damaged Honokohau Stream intake and other fixes meant to prevent water wasting.

Water commission staff reported nonstream uses of Honokohau Stream include 0.9 million gallons a day to Kapalua golf courses; 1 mgd to Kapalua resorts; 0.2 mgd for other uses such as agriculture, cemetery and Napili gardens irrigation; and 2.5 mgd for the county Department of Water Supply.

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