Friday, May 15, 2009




(PNN) A 1986 internal C. Brewer memo indicates that repairs to the Moloa`a Ditch were contemplated when the Ka Loko Ditch was repaired to provide water to the first “diversified agriculture” project in Kilauea after sugar cane operations in the area ceased in the early 1970’s .

The memo indicates that there was a cost “estimate” for re-establishing the Moloa`a Ditch prepared and is one of a series of memos (contained in one of the appendices of the state’s “Godby Report”) that indicate that it was written after extensive repairs to Ka Loko Ditch were completed in order to provide water for Brewer and it’s subsidiary Hawaiiana Investment Co to establish a prawn farm in Kilauea.

The prawn operation failed reportedly because the area was too wet and Brewer subsequently used the water to supply a guava farm in Kilauea that only recently went defunct.

Though the repairs to Moloa`a Ditch were apparently contemplated there is no indication in the memos- the last of which described more repairs to Ka Loko Ditch after a 1991 flood that killed three people in Anahola- that Brewer or anyone worked on the Moloa`a Ditch prior to the work that seemed to have been done in the late 90’s apparently by Jimmy Pflueger.

PNN reported a week ago Wednesday that a recent county study found that Moloa`a Ditch had been re-established about 10 years ago and now feeds a series of underground pipes above Ka Loko Reservoir in the area where Pflueger had been fined for land moving violations in 2001. Though the report did not speculate about the purpose of the ditch, PNN also reported that it was probably re-built to provide more water for a Pflueger-planned “water resort” that, according to sources close to Pflueger, was to center around Ka Loko Reservoir and use other “lakes” he had established in the area for water and jet-skiing.

That would explain the sudden drop in water flow in Moloa`a stream that, according to area residents and farmers, occurred 10 years ago- the same time the report estimated the work re-establishing Moloa`a Ditch was done.

As PNN reported last Friday an undated anonymous letter to the EPA indicates that Pflueger may have not only re-established the Moloa`a Ditch but may have reversed it’s flow direction to put water into the Ka Loko system rather than take it out as, the letter alleges, the ditch originally did when it was built in the late 19th and early 20th century for sugar cane operation in the area.

The May 20, 1986 memo that mentions Moloa`a Ditch is on C. brewer letterhead and addressed to R.L. Herberg, part-owner of Hawaiiana Investment and is from Brewer’s Gordon C. Wentworth.

It reads:

In preparing my May 18, 1986 memo to you on the Ka Loko Repairs I inadvertently failed to include the attached estimate for repair to the Moloa`a Ditch Flume which I had set aside while preparing a submission to DLNR.

In addition to the repair to the flume the Moloa`a Ditch needs clearing of the trail and ditch although the magnitude of the job is much smaller than was encountered in a similar length of Ka Loko Ditch.

Although the Moloa`a Ditch does not carry flow of water under normal conditions it can provide a contribution to the system during period of high rainfall. (emphasis added)

Though the memo presumes the flow was into the Ka Loko system there is no indication whether that supposition was based upon observation during a high rainfall incident or is based upon speculation or presumption.

The rest of the memos detail extensive restoration of the Ka Loko Ditch, which is the primary ditch feeding Ka Loko Reservoir which failed during a 2006 storm killing seven people and leading to manslaughter charges against Pflueger as well as numerous civil suits.

The work on Ka Loko Ditch was done by hydrologist John Weirheim and had been completed sometime between February 12, 1981- when the first memo indicates they had received DLNR permits for the work on Ka Loko Ditch- and November 15, 1985 when the second in the series of memos described the amount water flow in Ka Loko saying “(n)ow that the KaLoko Ditch repair is completed, and water is again flowing in the system...”

None of the memos describe any work to the Ka Loko Reservoir itself, nor do they refer to any actual Brewer work done on Moloa`a Ditch, only to an estimate of cost to re-establish it. It does however confirm that it was not carrying any water in 1986.

The memos do refer a spillway in Ka Loko Ditch which was designed to relieve the flow into Ka Loko reservoir but does not indicate where that spillway emptied nor if it was in the vicinity of the Moloa`a Ditch.

It has been publicly alleged by the state and plaintiffs in the civil suits that Pflueger covered the spillway of the Ka Loko Reservoir itself apparently leading to the dam break, but the contribution of any flow from Moloa`a Ditch has not been established nor mentioned publicly by the state or any of the plaintiffs.

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