Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022 |
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• State passing Ka Loko buck, cowardly
• Consider hydro-electric anew
• Full of it
State passing Ka Loko buck, cowardly
As a resident of the Wailapa area for the past four years and survivor of the Ka Loko Reservoir Dam breach March 14, 2006 — my property is situated about four football fields away, which may seem like a long distance, but when it comes to water, is nothing — I would like to make a few observations concerning Ka Loko and the larger picture people seem to be overlooking.
First of all, there was no disclosure whatsoever to this community that there was a potential water hazard situated above us when we bought this property.
Secondly, Ka Loko is the second oldest reservoir dam on Kaua‘i. I am not a geologist or an engineer, but when you look at the large hole in the ground that has held massive amounts of water for over 80 years, you might be a bit suspicious of its holding integrity. In fact you might even want to red-flag these areas as being inspected on a more routine basis. You may even want to put an annual report in the newspaper that these studies were being conducted.
Water in and of itself is a vital resource, just like food. Certainly there should be statistics about how many farmers are relying on these bodies of water for sustenance. The county engineering department should have known the real setbacks in a “worse case scenario” for the surrounding landowners and given vital statistics about this. When we refer to “the state” we are also referring to our own land taxes at work. “The state” is clearly negligent here for at least 50 years. To be kind and to pass on the responsibility of that under the “Dam Safety Bill of 2007” to private landowners is not only reprehensible but cowardly inaction.
Before the Ka Loko Dam breached an age-old crack in its walls and spilled out its contents, the Wailapa area experienced in February of that year a historical, record-breaking rainfall that added to a problem that was there and was probably there for many years. I had mold growing on one side of my body that month it was so wet. And I have been here for 37 years. I know what wet is. The big picture is this: There was a storm “cell” that created a massive amount of water farther upstream, which is now a raging river; all those areas of backed up water were released like miniature bombs, and a torrential flow of water came down that not even a spillway could handle. Just like in Anahola years ago when our friends died by debris and blocked passages unseen and unattended to for years above their riverside homes, and then having a “storm cell” concentrate its energy.
If you want to point a finger, point it at “the state.” They have been negligent in not only this area, but also beach areas that eat people alive like Lumahai and Hanakapiai. I have seen this for over four decades and it’s all about liability and being responsible for human life, which obviously has a price. Ask the state why they have no lifeguards in these most dangerous of areas. We pay huge amounts of land taxes to live here and it’s clear that “the state” needs to address issues that require forming new office employment, larger staff, and like all wealthy people, a well-formed legal office to address problems seen and unseen.
The state of Hawai‘i is run by our tax dollars. The state must take responsibility to oversee their infrastructure, period. This pointing of fingers and passage of laws to protect a position and responsibility that ultimately is based in time on “their” foundation is not justified by passing on that responsibility to the private sector.
Consider hydro-electric anew
As was seen by the Ka Loko Reservoir Dam breach, the many earthen dams on Kaua‘i can be extremely dangerous. All of us grieve for lives lost. All of us want to see these dams made safe.
Farmers need irrigation, which is being addressed by the Department of Land and Natural Resources as the safety issue is pursued. Another concern for our island, that of renewable energy, might also be addressed. By replacing hazardous, mud dams with small hydro-electric dams, several problems would be solved. The dams could be made safe when replaced with well-engineered structures; water levels could be well regulated during extreme weather conditions; irrigation would be easily provided for agricultural use; the water could also be potable; and a productive, relatively cheap, renewable energy resource would be available to the residents of Kaua‘i. The replacement of earthen dams with hydro-electric power plants should not negatively impact the environment, since the dams and their reservoirs are already in existence.
There are many, many obstacles to public works projects. There are many objections and concerns about hydro-electric power. Privately funded solar and wind power projects will most likely bring quicker relief. However, the potential benefits of hydro-electric power needs to be explored.
I do not have a deep scientific knowledge on the workings of hydro-electric power plants, and I am not financially or in any other way invested in any hydro-electric project or concern. I just know that Kaua‘i is one of the wettest locations on the planet and has 10 rivers, seven of which are major, and 126 streams. We have existing, unsafe earthen dams, with a very powerful source of energy backed up behind them. So, through this letter, I urge the powers that be, the DLNR, our senators and representatives, KIUC and the Sierra Club, to, at the very least, investigate the hydro-electric alternative anew, especially now when making decisions regarding Ka Loko.
Full of it
My accident on March 3, with my septic truck, was due to faulty brakes. With a full load and a downhill inclination, speed had become a factor in my crash.
I am so fortunate to have come out alive from the wreck with only bruises and a case of whiplash. For Ron Wiley, who was so curious as to my thoughts or my words at the time, it was “Oh God,” not “Holy —-.”
I would like to thank the following people who came to my aid: Earl Thronas, Sambo Thronas, George Thronas, Shawn Duncan, Jimmy Pipes Alisna and his friend — I did not get his name — KPD officers, the Kauai Fire Department and the EMT, Jenna Soares and Jaselyn Ornellas.
To all of my customers and friends who are concerned, I am okay and as soon as I get my truck replaced, I will be back pumping. Thank you for your well wishes and words of comfort. Mahalo again to you all and God bless.
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