Surface water key to the future

KAPAIA — The drone of tour helicopters overhead interrupted the formality of the moment.

Mike Furukawa saw the fruits of his eight-year labor come to fruition recently as he and other Grove Farm Company leaders hosted a blessing to celebrate the opening of the new, state-of-the-art, surface-water purification facility on Kaua’i.

The purification plant is the first of its type on Kaua’i.

“We’re going across a new frontier, breaking new ground,” said Grove Farm Co. Vice President Allan Smith who introduced Furukawa to the audience at the new plant.

The nearly-$9,000,000 investment resulted due to a private-public partnership between officials with Waiahi Water Company, LLC, a division of Grove Farm, and the County of Kaua’i Department of Water, to develop the Kapaia Reservoir water source.

“I came home from Seattle,” said Garrick Barretto, a Kaua’i resident. “I was doing this kind of work up there, and they had an opening for me here.”

Furukawa said he’s been working on the project from the time he started with Grove Farm, and pointed out the positive aspect of the collaborative effort between government and private-sector officials.

Although a few more things need to be done before water from the purification plant is piped into the system serving Hanama’ulu-Lihu’e residents and owners and operators of businesses, Furukawa said the dedication brings the project to completion, and thanked leaders in the county Department of Water for their progressive thinking and open mindedness that was critical for the success of the project.

Kaua’i Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste added, “It’s a good day. Pupus will be shaved ice made from water from the purification plant.”

On a more serious note, the mayor said that, despite the amount of rainfall Kaua’i receives, the aquifers are not that great, although there is a large amount of surface water.

He lauded the ingenuity of the project leaders for “stepping out of the box” to accomplish the project, and closed by noting, “Shave ice is inside.”

Furukawa, senior vice president of Grove Farm, said the entire purification facility project, from its planning to design and construction phases, was entirely privately built and financed.

Numerous tests have been conducted to ensure stringent health standards are met, and to ensure the quality and aesthetic properties of the water are up to code and meet state Department of Health officials’ requirements.

Operators of the Grove Farm Water Purification Facility will process water collected at Kapaia Reservoir via the Hanama’ulu Ditch System, and deliver water to the county Department of Water Lihu’e, Hanama’ulu and Puhi systems.

The initial capacity of the plant will allow for approximately 3,000,000 gallons of water per day to be delivered to households in the area.

Warren Haruki, president and chief executive officer of Grove Farm, said, “In addition to fulfilling our obligation to provide a water source for our new residential and commercial properties, Grove Farm is also ensuring that Kaua’i’s island community has critical access to water in the Lihu’e-Hanama’ulu-Puhi areas for years to come.

“We understand the vital role this purification plant will play in the future of Kaua’i, and we’re determined to ensure that our partnership with the County of Kaua’i, Department of Water was a success,” Haruki said.

“I commend the department and the county for their unwavering support of this project.

“Their progressive attitude in considering new alternatives for providing water for our community was critical to the project’s fruition,” Haruki added.

Leaders of Zenon Environmental, Inc., a firm based out of Canada and Oregon, provided the plant equipment and filtration membranes, with firm representatives on hand at the dedication to explain the filtering process of the membranes.

Bodell Construction workers performed the facility’s construction, with Aqua Engineers, Inc., and Austin Tsutsumi & Associates leaders creating the plant design. Members of crews from Aqua Engineers run the plant.

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