LIHUE — The state Commission on Water Resource Management is going to visit a few different streams and hydropower plants on Kauai Aug. 20.
The CWRM regular meeting is set for the following day, at Kauai Community College’s Fine Art Auditorium, at 9 a.m.
The meeting’s purpose is to aid CWRM in decision-making on the proposed interim instream flow standards for Wai’ale’ale and Waikoko Streams.
“Public attendance is not practicable and no public testimony regarding the site visit will be taken,” the CWRM meeting agenda states.
But, the site visit will be recorded and made available on the CWRM website and will be available at the Sept. 18 regularly scheduled meeting as well.
It’s all about the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative’s revocable permit, issued by the Board of Land and Natural Resources to divert water from the North Fork Wailua for the purposes of hydropower generation.
KIUC can’t alter the diversion without permission, and hasn’t since 2003, according to KIUC spokeswoman Beth Tokioka.
She said the diversion was built by Lihue Plantation in 1914 and was designed to take 100 percent of the streamflow during low- and medium-flow days to support their irrigation needs.
“Because of its design, depending on factors such as rainfall, there were many instances when 100 percent of the base flow was diverted and there were other times when it was not,” Tokioka said.
Vandalism took its toll on the diversion in October 2016 and since then there is almost always a small amount of water flowing over the diversion and down the stream.
“Earlier this year, KIUC undertook additional minor modifications to the existing gates just below the diversion which ensure that water is released back to the stream under all flow conditions,” Tokioka said.
Once CWRM determines the interim instream flows, and if KIUC is successful in obtaining a long-term lease for the diversions, KIUC will be required to modify the diversions accordingly to insure that the IIFS is continually met.
Throughout the day on Aug. 20, CWRM staff will visit the West Branch of the North Fork Wailua River Crossing, the diversion on Wai’ale’ale Stream, the diversion on Waikoko Stream, the Upper Waiahai Hydropower Plant and the lower Waiahai Hydropower Plant.