Two dam owners fined for failure to address risks

HONOLULU — Friday, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources fined the owners of dams on O‘ahu and Hawai‘i Island for not addressing risks associated with major deficiencies to dam structures.

The dams and reservoirs fined are Wahiawa on O‘ahu and Keaiwa on Hawai‘i Island.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources Dam Safety Program presented the enforcement actions to the land board to ensure dam owners move forward with the necessary steps to maintain dam structures and comply with safety standards and regulations set forth in state law.

Carty Chang, DLNR’s chief engineer, said, “The goal of the Dam Safety Program is to protect the health, safety and welfare of everyone by reducing the risk of failure of dams and reservoirs.

“These enforcement actions will help our program more effectively work with dam owners to ensure they meet their requirements to minimize risks to lives and property while also preserving these valuable water resources that provide many beneficial uses for the people of Hawai‘i.”

Chang added, “It is extremely important to recognize that our aging dam structures need to be able to withstand severe-storm events.

“It’s not just the law, it’s in the best interest of our community and future generations.”

BLNR Chair Suzanne Case, who also serves as chair of the land board, commented, “These are proactive steps towards staying ahead of our aging dams and the impacts of climate change bringing more-frequent and more-intense rainstorms which, collectively, can be disastrous if not addressed today. Moving forward, we will continue to work with dam owners to keep our communities safe and to preserve the benefits created by the dams.”

One of the owners of the Wahiawa Dam, the Dole Food Company Hawai‘i, was fined $20,000. The owner of the Keaiwa Reservoir, the Edmund C. Olson Trust No. II, was fined $7,500.

A third enforcement action was brought against the owner of Ukumehame Reservoir on Maui. A representative of the owner, West Maui Investors, LLC, requested a contested-case hearing, so that matter was deferred pending that procedure.

For more information on regulated dams in Hawai‘i, see dams.hawaii.gov.

3 Comments
  1. John Patt April 11, 2021 7:48 am Reply

    We need to know the condition of Waita. If it breaks, Koloa is swept away under 25 ft of water.


  2. kanOOkdrmr April 11, 2021 8:49 am Reply

    Don’t want another Pflueger Death Disaster!


  3. mona April 12, 2021 7:27 am Reply

    Yes we do need to know the status of Waita. Also why is Grove Farm diverting so much water to this reservoir? the amount of water in the reservoir needs to be decreased . Need an assessment of what happened on 3/12/21 – where is all the water coming from that flooded Koloa town and the homes near Waita.


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