Public input sought on Kalaheo water project

KALAHEO — The county Department of Water is expecting to build a new Clearwell tank on a portion of state land, replacing the existing Clearwell tank in Kalaheo later this year.

Officials are looking for public input in a virtual meeting scheduled for today on the next steps of the project.

The project area is located approximately 1.2 miles mauka of Kaumuali‘i Highway on Pu‘uwai, Po‘ohiwi and Kikala roads. The improvements will occur primarily in existing public facilities.

One of the properties was recently acquired by DOW, and will require the removal of an abandoned dwelling. Installation of the transmission main will occur within the road rights of way under county ownership, and traffic-control measures will be employed to assure continual vehicular passage through the construction area.

The tank sits within the boundary of the state Lihu‘e-Koloa Forest Reserve as designated by a governor’s proclamation in 1909. The county is requesting that the reservoir site, approximately 2.75 acres, be withdrawn from the reserve system so that it can be properly set aside to the county so that they have jurisdiction over the area.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said the land will be set aside to the County of Kaua‘i Department of Water to repair, upgrade or replace its aging water-system equipment at this location. This is needed to meet maximum day demand storage capacity and fire-flow requirements for current and future demand in the Kalaheo-Lawa‘i-‘Oma‘o Water Service Area.

The cost to upgrade the facility is $6 million, according to DOW.

The DOW also made it clear that they are not constructing anything in conjunction with DNLR on this project. DOW said there is no reservoir in the Kalaheo system that is used to provide drinking water, and the $6 million includes demolishing the old tank and building a new tank.

The DOW said this is a water-storage tank project that consists of two existing wells.

According to DOW, there are no water restrictions enacted for the Kalaheo system. The Clearwell is being replaced because it is coming to the end of its service life.

The new tank will be smaller because the service area will change to a smaller size. Other customers will be serviced through a different Kalaheo pressure zone. The 330,000-gallon Clearwell is being replaced by a 100,000-gallon storage tank.

Currently, there are approximately 1,100 service connections, and DOW said that, during the project, there is always the possibility of water shutoffs during construction. However, these should be minimal and only for very short periods of time. DOW will be providing public notice for any disruptions to water service.

The state Legislature budgeted $8 million to the county and $1.6 million for the state funds for the Kalaheo-Lawa‘i-‘Oma‘o Water System on Kaua‘i for the fiscal year of 2021.

For the fiscal year of 2020, the state Legislature budgeted $2.2 million for the county funds and $440,000 for the state funds for the Kalaheo-Lawa‘i-‘Oma‘o Water System.

The funds are to be used for design, construction, equipment for water-system improvements, and other related improvements, provided that the county provides matching funds equaling 10% of the state funds appropriated for the purpose of this project.

According to a DOW, while water is not deficient, changes in the recommended water standards have increased the minimum requirements for storage capacity and fire flow.

In a state Board of Land and Natural Resources meeting held in January, the DLNR said proposed improvements include replacing two existing water tanks with a new, 0.5-million gallon tank, and constructing a new production well, 12,500 linear foot transmission main, modified booster-pump station, upgraded booster pumps, and relocated existing pressure-reducing valve stations.

According to DLNR, the existing water system is 65 years old, requiring DOW to comprehensively review its system for needed repairs, upgrades or replacement of the aging facility, which includes additional lands being acquired. The existing Clearwell site, which contains a 333,000-gallon tank, will remain, but will be demolished once the newer reservoir and tank are built.

The DNLR said it is not certain when exactly the facility was first built, as neither the county nor DLNR Land Division could locate any files relating to its approval and construction.

“The only document found was a plot plan dated November 1972, prepared by a consulting-engineering firm for DOW, for water-treatment-plant modification and appurtenances. The oldest water pipeline was installed in Kalaheo back in 1942,” the DLNR said.

Problems with the current water supply include deficient fire flows in agricultural and open-zone areas, undersized mains and the aging system.

“Our understanding is that there were/are three water tanks,” a spokesperson from DOW said. “Two were repurposed to store potable water, and the third tank was deactivated due to damage sustained from the 1992 hurricane. The current water supply includes a deficient fire flow in agriculture/open zoned areas, undersized mains and aging system, which does not meet current requirements.”

However, DLNR said to properly set aside the subject lands to the county, the 3.20 acres must first be withdrawn from the governor’s proclamation dated June 5, 1909, then reset aside to the county for its Clearwell Reservoir site.

Lastly, DLNR noted in their board meeting held on Jan. 8 that, during the Conservation District Use Application and environmental assessment process, several government agencies and interest groups were solicited for comments. DLNR said there were no negative responses to the request.

To watch today’s public meeting, visit youtube.com/channel/UCCmbChq0SDC4zjjU0bUcKDQ.

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Stephanie Shinno, education and business reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.

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