Grove Farm gets okay for water treatment facility

The County Planning Commission Tuesday approved a proposal from Grove Farm Properties, Inc. to construct a water treatment facility on approximately four acres of old sugarcane land.

The water treatment facility will produce about three million gallons of water per day (mgd). Grove Farm will be able to use 1 mgd for their planned developments in the Lihu’e and Puhi areas; they will integrate 2 mgd of water into the Department of Water’s supply to fulfill the community’s need for more water, said a county planning department staffer.

As part of the permit agreement, Grove Farm will be required to comply with nine conditions, including requirements of the state Department of Health and State Commission on Water Resource Management; County Department of Water, Fire Department and Public Works.

Grove Farm will have to plant a “landscape buffer” to block views from Maalo Road.

They may only use shielded lights or indirect external lighting to protect threatened birds like the Newell’s Shearwater.

The site near Kapaia Reservoir sits about 2.75 miles from the intersection of Kuhio Highway and Maalo Road, on a 5,370-acre parcel zoned open and agricultural, owned by Lihue Land Company.

Studies found that groundwater resources are insufficient for Grove Farm’s planned residential, commercial and industrial developments, according to the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Also, this new water source would relieve some of the strain from existing water systems, as there are no new groundwater sources in the Lihue area.

The land doesn’t contain any ancient Hawaiian archeological sites, and construction of the treatment facility won’t disturb historical properties. Furthermore, intensive ag cultivation has altered the landscape, according to the Hawai’i Historic Preservation Division, state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Larger developers such as Grove Farm are required to develop their own water systems to sustain their development plans, said Mike Furukawa, an executive at Grove Farm.

Grove Farm remains at a “standstill” in continuing their master plan until they can do so, Furukawa added.

Of the 3 mgd that can be produced, 1 mgd is reserved for Grove Farm’s projects including Puakea residential lots, and water could also be used for developments in Lihu’e and Hanama’ulu.

Negotiations resulted in the County’s Department of Water getting 2 mgd, Furukawa said.

Looking at other sites, Grove Farm said that the Kapaia Reservoir was the best place for the facility, taking residential needs into account. Also, they’ll be able to use an existing current transmission line once used for irrigation.

The facility will be licensed to Grove Farm Properties from Lihue Land Company. Treated water from the facility will be replaced into the reservoir and then treated to be safe for drinking and other potable uses.

The treatment facility will include a 5,000 square foot control building, water lines; a 50-foot diameter, 20-foot tall storage tank; two detention basins to prevent excessive runoff; septic tank system and driveway/access road.

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