Moloaa Stream must be restored

SUBHEAD: Since the diversion, Moloaa wells have gone dry and residents are rationing water during the summer.  

By Hope Kallai on 15 May 2009 for in Island Breath -

Image above: Lower reaches of Moloaa Stream, when full, as it nears the ocean.

The County of Kauai Office of Economic Development has recently released;

 available at

 It discusses the inflow to Ka Loko reservoir as now coming from Pu`u Ka Ele stream (via the Ka Loko ditch) and the un-permitted Moloa`a ditch. According to the county report, sometime in the past decade, a new ditch system was constructed beginning on Mary Lucas Estate land, and continuing about a half mile on Moloa`a Forest Reserve, state land. During the Kilauea Sugar plantation era, the Moloa`a ditch system delivered an "inconsequential amount of water" and fell into disrepair from non-use.

Mysteriously, a new ditch system appeared - about the same time as the spillway at Ka Loko disappeared and the raising of the elevation of the dam face. Kalua`a is a perennial stream tributary that starts from a soggy seep on state forest land, flows into Moloa`a stream and is the main water source for Moloa`a stream. Mysteriously, someone poured a new cement ditch system diverting Kalua`a water from Moloa`a stream into Ka Loko Reservoir and into a pipe system servicing Mary Lucas Trust lands and Pila`a.

This extra water inflow allowed the impoundment of hundreds of millions of gallons of extra water in the increased-capacity Ka Loko reservoir (altered by removal of spillway and elevation of dam) beyond the intended storage capacity of the reservoir.

At least until March 14, 2006. Our ahupua`a based group of neighbors, Malama Moloa`a, formed about a decade ago around a common cause - the de-watering of the streams from Anahola to Kilauea. About the same time, late 1990's, Moloa`a stream began changing. There were no flushing flows - high precipitation events didn't cause the stream to rise as it used to. Sometimes, Moloa`a stream rose when there was no precipitation.

A few times the stream ran really dirty - brown water and grey water (looking like cleaning up after a cement pour). Early 2000's Moloa`a stream had a sand berm at the mouth that didn't clear for 3 years, blocking the migration of o`opu. Malama Moloa`a wrote many letters with maps and photos where we thought the diversion was, but Mayor Kusaka wouldn't honor anonymous photos submitted to our group from the public.

DLNR's Commission of Water Resources Management (CWRM) sent a representative to investigate but they were escorted by a representative of a land owner who did not show them the new diversion from Kalua`a into the re-aligned historic Moloa`a ditch and into Ka Loko reservoir or the Mary Lucas/Pila`a pipeline. Alterations to state land in the Moloa`a Forest Reserve by James Pflueger were revealed in the EPA Consent decree settlement, in very close proximity to the newly-created ditch system, and the unpermitted grading and grubbing remediated.

Yet no agency present noticed the disappearance of the spillway or the increased flow into Ka Loko from a new, unpermitted stream diversion from Kalua`a/Moloa`a. On Feb. 21, 2006, Moloa`a Stream experienced a destructive flood that took out the Old Government Road bridge in lower Moloa`a. Due to the volume of water and how long the flood lasted, we thought that Ka Loko had blown. We were told by county representatives "Ka Loko's not full; it's still holding. Don't worry, if it blows, it will take out Kilauea side."

Three weeks later it did - killing 8 people. We believe what actually happened was the diversion experienced a log jam and Moloa`a regained it's stolen water. Since the failure of the alterations to the historic dam, Ka Loko has had some high tech additions of monitoring equipment. Pu`u Ka Ele stream delivers water via the Ka Loko ditch into the reservoir but is "insufficient to meet the water needs of 20 farmers and Mary Lucas Trust".

 An unknown amount of water is being delivered by the newly constructed, unpermitted Kalua`a/Moloa`a ditch system into the reservoir. There still is no spillway or way to remove water during high flow/emergency situations. Kalua`a Stream, the major source for Moloa`a Stream waters, is being heavily diverted from the Moloa`a ahupua`a. Moloa`a is one of the few areas of Kauai not serviced by county water; there are NO residential hookups. Most residences have water wells.

 Since the removal of the only perennial tributary from our stream system, Kalua`a, Moloa`a Steam has gone completely dry in the lower reaches during the summers of 2007 and 2008. The ground water aquifer has dropped. Wells have gone dry. Pumps have been lowered and residents are rationing water during the summer.

Many houses have been built within the past decade, all with well water. There is no alternative water source available to the residents of Moloa`a. Will over 200 Moloa`a residents have to move because of loss of primary source of water to deliver a secondary source of water to the 20 water users of Kilauea Irrigation System (who use 37%) and the Mary Lucas Estate (who use 63% of the water from Ka Loko and as much of the Moloa`a ditch as they want)?

This plan is not sustainable to the residents of the source water - Moloa`a and is a violation of Public Trust. Moloa`a residents must be considered as stakeholders and included in this planning process. Moloa`a water is not for sale.

 Our stream needs its' water. Our groundwater table needs its' water. Our reefs need fresh water. All Kalua`a Ditch waters must be returned to the Kalua`a/Moloa`a Stream of origin. Out-of-the-watershed export of water cannot be considered. An unpermitted, un-engineered, stream diversion, in trespass on state land, constructed illegally, can not be considered as a water source for a public water delivery system.

There is no insurance or maintenance agreement. This theft of water cannot be allowed to continue. If a flash flood happens on this diversion and another wall of water kills people, who is responsible?

Image above: Moloaa Stream ends here as it enters the bay. Photo by Juan Wilson 9/8/05

See also:
Island Breath: Moloaa diversion details 5/13/09
Island Breath: Molaa Water Diverted 5/9/09


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