Moloaa Stream Complaint

SUBHEAD: Efforts are moving forward to restore Moloaa Stream waters within its ahupuaa (watershed).  

By Andy Parx on 22 May 2009 in Parx News Network

Image above: The scene of the crime. The Kaloko Reservoir Puu is the nexus of several water courses with four ahupuaa and four properties bordering it. Graphic by Juan Wilson with GoogleEarth.

Hope Kallai of Malama Moloa`a has filed a detailed complaint with the state Commission on Water Resources Management (CWRM), a division of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), providing evidence and documentation and that she hopes will lead to investigation and the restoration of water illegally diverted from Moloa`a Stream.

 The complaint and it’s 77 endnoted exhibits detail the history of the Moloa`a Ditch from the sugar cane era through the illegal diversion that occurred apparently about 10 years ago and which increased the amount of water supplied to Ka Loko Reservoir and other lands owned by Jimmy Pflueger and the Mary Lucas Estate causing Moloa`a stream slow to a virtual trickle.

After reviewing the voluminous files contained in the state ordered Godby Report and it’s extensive document appendix (compiled after the 2006 Ka Loko dam break that killed seven people), a recent county funded report on the Kilauea area irrigation systems and other documents, the complaint details the apparent theft of Moloa`a water that has caused wells to run dry and farmers to cease operations in the valley since the illegal diversion was completed. The complaint clears up the history of the Moloa`a Ditch saying  
There were previously 2 historic Moloa`a ditches. In the late 1890’s, the original Moloa`a Ditch carried a minimal amount of water from a high contour ditch to Waipake. The second historic Moloa`a ditch followed easement “W-11” and was used from the 1920’s to about 1965-1968 to carry high rain runoff to Ka Loko ditch near the Parshall Flume, mainly during the winter months. According to Jack Gushiken, this ditch was not used during the summer during sugar plantation days because Pu`u Ka Ele ditch had plenty water. In the late 1960’s insignificant water flow led to no maintenance which lessened flow to non-existent. The Moloa`a ditch was non-functional before the demise of Kilauea Sugar in 1972. It was non-functional for about 20 years at the date of declaration need by the State Water Code in 1988. It had not ever been declared because it was not in use until about 2000.  

Apparently, according to Kallai’s research, the theory presented in a pre-dam break letter to the EPA- as PNN reported last week- saying that Moloa`a Ditch originally may have acted as an overflow spillway for the Ka Loko ditch system and ran “in reverse” in order to return excess water to Moloa`a Stream, was incorrect. Though there is no concrete proof, the illegal diversion is thought to be the work of Pflueger who has been found guilty of various land moving violations in the area including one that resulted in the largest fine for reef destruction in federal Environmental Protection Agency history.

As PNN has reported, according to multiple friends of Pflueger, he had planned a water-sports-based resort in the area and apparently needed more water than the Ka Loko Ditch could provide in order to fill artificial lakes he constructed as well as fill existing area reservoirs like Ka Loko for water and jet-skiing. According to two area residents who examined the pipes and watched them being installed, the water system crosses the highway through culverts at Pilaa and supplied a series of Pflueger constructed “lakes” makai of the highway which were just recently removed as part of the remediation ordered by the EPA.

 Pflueger is set to stand trial for manslaughter this summer as well as defend multiple civil suits for damages related to the Ka Loko dam break and other incidents in the area The CWRM complaint describes the current reconstructed ditch based on the studies and documents saying
 The unpermitted diversion of Kalua`a/Moloa`a stream begins at a new dam (”Pre-2001” according to the Kilauea Irrigation Report April 2009), constructed on state land in the Moloa`a Forest Reserve, continuing 2,750 feet towards Ka Loko through a system of ditches, flumes and tunnels to Mary Lucas Trust lands, where a diversion structure directs water underground through pipes either into Ka Loko reservoir or to the Mary Lucas Trust lands and the Kilauea Irrigation Company (KICO) system distribution lines for sale.
These pipes are carried underground through other lands belonging to the State of Hawaii , (TMK (4) 5-1-2:3), according to the above report, and export millions of gallons of water per day out of the watershed of Moloa`a, without engineering, metering or monitoring for about a decade. The complaint then details the deleterious effects on Moloa`a resident saying
The unpermitted exportation Kalua`a/Moloa`a stream has caused a perennial stream to go dry for 2 summers (2007 & 2008) and had serious negative impacts to the aquatic ecosystem of Moloa`a, seriously diminishing nesting habitat for 3 endangered water bird species and an assemblage of endangered stream and pali plants. Water quality is diminished in the remnant pools.
Impacts to the ecosystem must be considered before the massive exportation of water resources. Since this un-engineered, un-maintained diversion was installed, Moloa`a has experienced many dirty water events – both brown water and grey water reported. Moloa`a stream has experienced un-explained extreme flood events that have damaged stream property and county infrastructure.
The ground water aquifer has diminished due to lack of recharge from the stream aquifer. Water well pumps have had to be lowered due to diminished aquifer and most people self-ration. Neighbors with declared Stream Uses are not able to use their water rights.
There is no county water distribution system for potable or agricultural water throughout Moloa`a; most farms are dependent upon well water. Now we are having a hard time planting because we cannot depend upon having water. Many stream front lands are going unworked now because owners do not feel safe due to unknown factors/persons manipulating and controlling the waters.  

The complaint was filed with the CWRM which establishes Instream Flow Standards and issues Water Use Permits, Stream Channel Alteration permits and Stream Diversion Permits. Kallai told PNN there are at least three things she hopes the commission will do.

  1. See that Moloa`a water returned and natural stream flow restored. 
  2.  Investigate and prosecute whoever is responsible for stealing our water and selling it.
  3. With the fines, fund a stream research center and watershed restoration effort and funding for environmental enforcement and enough researchers to perform statewide assessments of our water resources and where they're going.  
For more background on the Ka Loko ditch and reservoir system and work done on Moloa`a ditch resulting in a lack of water in Moloa`a, refer to the four previous PNN reports.

See also:
Island Breath: Moloaa Diversion Forensics 5/22/09
Island Breath: Moloaa Diversion Details 5/13/09
Island Breath: Molaa Water Diverted 5/9/09

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