Fate of Kauai Levees

SUBHEAD: What will happen to the levees of Hanapepe and Waimea after decertification?
By Linda Harmon (harmonl001@hawaii.rr.com) on 2 September 2009

There is something wrong with the picture in my my mind when it comes to the funding county projects like levees. Stimulus money (matching funds to the state from the Federal Government) doesn’t seem to be available at the current time to upgrade levees, therefore we don’t consider the projects doable. If there aren’t matching funds from the feds, we aren’t going to get enough money to upgrade Kauai levees in populated areas to certification levels for appropriate public safety.

image above: Detail of NOAA photo of broken New Orleans levee in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. From http://www.katrina.noaa.gov/helicopter/helicopter-2.html

People living within the "protected" areas of Waimea and Hanapepe levees can be spared harm by purchasing flood insurance. That’s the best advice the county, the state, and the Federal government has for us. We are told the expense for the Hanapepe levee alone could amount to tens of millions of dollars. The county has set aside some one hundred and fifty thousand for retrofitting both levees.

On the other hand, a project to expand the Waimea Waste Water Treatment Plant was approved last month by receiving matching funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This Act makes federal monies available to develop infrastructure that will allow stalled building developments in Waimea to begin. The total for this project is costing us tax payers 14 million dollars (7 million from the state and 7 from the federal government).

The Waimea Waste Treatment Plant request had been on the back burner for some time waiting for submission. The projection numbers for the future plant capacity is reliant on a 1997 transportation plan. With the current economic downturn due to shortage of future oil, the expansion of the plant needs to be looked at anew. What kind of building boom do we really think is in the making with the future we now face?

While bidders are lining up for the present project, which is reliant on what I would think are bloated future population figures, present residents of both Hanapepe and Waimea are looking to pay hundreds of dollars of flood insurance per household for untold years down the line (if they can afford it), to limit their liability for lost life and property should the levees go down during a hundred year storm or a hurricane. see also: Ea O Ka Aina: Meeting on Flood Plain Areas 8/25/09 Ea O Ka Aina: Westside levees in trouble 7/8/09 Island Breath: Waimea & Hanapepe levees faulty 4/21/07

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