Thank you TGI for sharing Mahana Dunn’s letter on Jan. 11, Diverting Wai‘ale‘ale waters a terrible idea.
Ms. Dunn’s letter is likely related to the recent public comment, due Jan. 7 to KIUC’s Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) on a bid to divert more than 40 million gallons of water a day from Mt. Wai‘ale‘ale streams for the maximum production potential of 1.5 mega watts of electricity per day. They are seeking a 65-year lease to continue taking this water. What are we doing to protect our streams and fresh water resources?
KIUC has developed many renewable energy resources that are a benefit to Kauai. They are solar-based with battery storage backup and already generate more than 35 mega watts of power per day. However, that is not the case with the power created by the waters diverted from Mt. Wai‘ale‘ale.
A review of KIUC’s annual reports reveals that in most years Waiahi power plants actual production is as low as 30% of their 1.5 mega watt capacity. In 2010 there was no power produced from these plants. The reality is that these older hydro power plants are often not online producing any power and almost never meet the 1.5 mega watt capacity, approximately 1% or less of Kauai’s daily power use.
According to State Law, any commercial use of stream water is supposed to be supported by an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Hawaii Revised Statute 171-58c. That statute does not permit a lease application to be based on an EA. Neither KIUC nor its predecessors did any environmental studies for the streams they now seek to divert for at least another 65 years.
Will more native plants disappear to be replaced by draught resistant species because of the waters taken from this beautiful mountain, none of which is returned to the stream of origin as state law mandates? And what about the protected and endangered animals in the area? Will they become extinct with 65 years of continued water depravation?
There is a great National Geographic documentary carried on Netflix and other media: Water &Power: A California Heist (2017), we don’t need to duplicate their experience on Kauai.
A strong piece of evidence exposing the real reason that KIUC wants to divert as much as 40 million gallons daily or more is evident in a recent letter sent by Kauai Board of Realtors to its members requesting them to file favorable comments on the KIUC Draft EA.
The pertinent parts of the letter follow absent the KIUC positive talking points offered to the realtors. The real reason for the water grab is obvious … it’s about development, sales and power, not the electric kind. As coop members of KIUC, is more development what we want for our over burdened roads and island?
Your positive testimony would be appreciated, no later than Jan.7, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bridget Hammerquist is a resident of Koloa.