Council authorizes DPW to secure $6.5 million loan

LIHU‘E — The county is moving forward with $6.5 million in upgrades to the Waimea Wastewater System.

The Kaua‘i County Council authorized the county’s Department of Public Works to enter an intergovernmental agreement with the state’s Department of Health for a loan from the State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund for the project.

These upgrades will establish the Waimea Wastewater Treatment Plant as an R-1 recycled water storage and distribution system. Different than potable water, this recycled water can be used for irrigation purposes.

In Waimea, the idea is to bring this drought-proof water source to the Waimea Athletic Field and Waimea Canyon Middle School in the first phase of the project, Jason Kagimoto, Chief of the Wastewater Management Division explained to the council on Wednesday.

In 2013, the Waimea wastewater facility completed R-1 upgrades, and in 2019, the Waimea Athletic Field Irrigation System upgrades were completed.

The vision for Waimea is to produce about 200,000 gallons per day for a 400,000-gallon storage tank and R-1 recycled water pumping and piping systems, Kagimoto said.

On other islands, this sort of non-potable, undrinkable water system typically provides irrigation to golf courses, parks and playgrounds, schoolyards, athletic fields, resort landscaping and food crops.

Already, the county provides water to the Hokuala golf course by funneling water into a pond which is then used to water the fairways.

Since June 2020, the county has paid Hartung Brothers $60,000 to use about 200,000 gallons of R-2 recycled water daily for alfalfa growth.

“Hartung Brothers was already leasing land within the County’s recently purchased acreage,” Kagimoto said in an email when asked what types of discussions led to this partnership. “There was existing infrastructure that was already in place to deliver the recycled water.”

Hartung Brothers received a $750,000 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act Grant from the county to establish livestock feed production infrastructure as well as equipment for cattle finishing, and a big part of that is alfalfa growth, which the company sells commercially to ranchers.

The fact that the county was paying for Hartung’s use raised eyebrows from councilmembers.

Councilmember Billy DeCosta, a farmer himself, asked if the system would be able to support other farmers on the 400 acres, including if the water would be suitable for taro farms, which are a Westside favorite.

“It would be much better if we were in a different situation,” Kagimoto said in the meeting.

Later, in an email, Kagimoto clarified that the county is negotiating further monthly costs, which comes from the Wastewater Management Division’s operating budget.

As part of the system, which is regulated by the Department of Health, regular safety practices will be implemented to ensure no cross-contamination with potable drinking water systems will take place, as well as signage, special hose bibbs, color-coded pipe and valve boxes and irrigation system staff training, according to Kagimoto’s presentation.

The county’s projecting a first-quarter bid out for construction.

  1. I saw a Vampire once January 14, 2021 5:01 am Reply

    Billy Decosta. So what is the issues? Don’t mind me being cynical about asking. Because we all need to eat. And it’s a compliment. Democracy at it’s finest. Did they hold many meetings already? I hope you don’t mind me asking. How much are you getting paid? Because many police officers are not getting paid. That is an economic issue.

  2. mona January 14, 2021 6:09 am Reply

    very confusing…. why is the county paying Hartung brothers 60,000 dollars? it sounds like Hartung is using state land and accessing county water??? Should the county be taking a loan for these types of projects when there are so many other greater needs on Kauai???

    1. LMat January 15, 2021 9:22 am Reply

      Because Hartung Brothers is “doing the county a favor”. The treatment plant was not able to hold or dispose of the R2 recycled water. Where do you think that water would have gone if Hartung wasn’t able to step up…? 200,000 gallons A DAY. And we’re talking about dirty water here. The kind of water that takes special equipment and training to handle.

      While I appreciate Billy Decosta’s interest in getting the “community farmer” involved, this isn’t something a community farmer would be able to handle. As stated in the article, Hartung Brothers was already leasing land near the facility, already had infrastructure in place and had the capability ($$$) to invest in additional equipment and personnel training to make this happen.

  3. Kawika January 14, 2021 7:08 am Reply

    I’m sure a cost analysis was done on thus project, but if my math is correct expecting a 20 year lifespan it comes out to only 225 gallons per dollar, this is if course neglecting interest charges. There must be some other benefits such as reduced cost of exists disposal or protection of environment. I would look forward to a more comprehensive article!. Such as projected interest costs and other benefits the project could bring besides extremely expensive water.

  4. Cardo January 14, 2021 10:19 am Reply

    Aloha, Mr. Kagimoto

    Could you please explain why the county is taking out a $6.5 million loan to install a non-potable wastewater system that benefits only one commercial user who the county is paying for their infrastructure and operating cost?

    What is the return on investment for the taxpayers making payments on that $6.5 million loan? As well as the $75k and $60k received by the commercial user from the county?

    Can you please expand on the vague reply you provided? It’s an important point the councilmember brought to your attention and deserves an honest and complete response.
    “It would be much better if we were in a different situation,” Kagimoto said in the meeting.

    “Accountable, Responsible, and Truthful Government of Our Community”

    1. LMat January 15, 2021 9:29 am Reply

      The 6.5 million dollar loan benefits YOU, the taxpayer. The loan will be used to make improvements to the wastewater treatment facility. It will not benefit “a single commercial user”. It will enable the treatment facility to be able to better handle YOUR doodoo water, instead of having to contract out disposal, like they are doing now with Hartung Brothers.

  5. mona January 14, 2021 5:07 pm Reply

    Thank you Cardo… yes we tax payers and Kauai people who have many needs at this time- need a better explanation.. more transparency on this matter please.

  6. randy kansas January 15, 2021 4:04 pm Reply

    when there is a loan, there is collateral or something of value to back it…in case a foreclosure is needed…what asset(s) did the county put up, for the loan ?

    interest rates are so low, a loan may not be a bad thing…just need more details;

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