Grove Farm to build surface-water treatment plant near Hanama’ulu

Grove Farm representatives are projecting that a surface-water treatment plant capable of producing three million gallons of drinking water per day could be ready within a year.

The new water facility will treat water from the Kapaia Reservoir for human consumption, and solve most if not all of the water woes in Hanama’ulu and Puhi that in some cases have kept housing and other developments from proceeding.

The $6 million to $7 million plant (not including pipelines) will be built at the reservoir, mauka of Hanama’ulu and up Ma’alo Road three-quarters of the way to Wailua Falls, on the slope of Kilohana Crater, said Mike Furukawa, a Grove Farm Co. vice president.

Originally, Grove Farm planned to build the plant on its mauka Puhi lands, but when owner Steve Case bought the former Amfac Sugar Kaua’i Eastside lands, the former Amfac land made the better choice for the plant, Furukawa said.

“The water systems are superior, easier to work with, easier to maintain, and we have a large reservoir to work with,” he said.

“We’re trying to get it done as quickly as possible, within the year.”

Furukawa is negotiating with representatives of the county Department of Water to sell all the water the plant produces to the county, and get credit for future developments in exchange.

“We’re responsible for developing water for our projects” both in Hanama’ulu and Puhi, but in Hanama’ulu more than water is needed for projects to proceed.

“We’re lacking sewer capacity,” don’t have any subdivisions going in, so don’t have roadways or improved lots (with utilities, etc.), “so it’s not that simple,” he said.

In Puhi, the Puakea Golf Course is nearing completion of its expansion from 10 to 18 holes, and some additional residential subdivisions are already planned near Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School.

Furukawa said company representatives are looking into the possibility of piping potable water from the plant to Puhi, where Grove Farm has housing projects that need the life liquid.

In conjunction with the DOW, the company is conducting a water system study on the two Lihu’e-area water systems (Hanama’ulu side and Puhi side), to determine feasibility of moving the new water from one system to the other.

The DOW needs the water as much as Grove Farm does, because three Lihu’e wells have run dry, said Ed Tschupp, DOW manager and chief engineer.

The DOW has four new wells in the Lihu’e area nearing completion, with two to be done by the middle of this year, and the other two finished by year’s end, he said.

Consultants are looking at the feasibility of drilling existing wells deeper. The Lihu’e area’s hard rock means less well water, but more surface water, he said. The end of sugar irrigation over two years ago has meant less percolation of water to replenish the wells, Tschupp explained.

The DOW plan calls for $4 million worth of new pipelines, and $7 million to $8 million in new water projects, in the Lihu’e and Hanama’ulu areas, some using federal funds, Tschupp said.

The Grove Farm surface-water treatment plant will solve Lihu’e’s long-term water needs, and allow further development, he concluded.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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