Wednesday, May 13, 2009



(PNN) The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was apparently informed about the Moloa`a stream diversion in an anonymous, undated, detailed letter appended to the state’s Godby Report on the Ka Loko Dam break. It alleges that the work apparently done to restore the Moloa`a ditch actually reversed the direction of the flow which originally took water away from Ka Loko and into Moloa`a Stream.

Though the letter was also sent to the Honolulu Advertiser, the Garden Island newspaper and David Henkin of Earth Justice neither they, Godby nor the EPA apparently noted or acted upon the letter that appears in an appendix of EPA documents.

According to the letter, the long-in-disrepair Moloa`a ditch that currently feeds Ka Loko reservoir was originally designed to dump excess water before it reached the reservoir, which is constructed in a cinder cone and fed by a series of ditches rather than sitting in the path of a regular stream as most reservoirs do.

The letter alleges that Jimmy Pflueger fully reconstructed the ditch about 10 years ago and reversed the flow in order to feed an “irrigation system”, with the overflow dumping into Ka Loko reservoir.

It confirms many of the allegations made by Malama Moloa`a and Hope Kallai, as PNN reported last week, that work apparently done by Pflueger- as described in detail in a recent county report on the future use of the Ka Loko irrigation system for Kilauea farmers- recently re-constructed and established the ditch and adds the allegation that it reversed the flow of the ditch which, it says, was originally designed to take excess water from the Ka Loko system and dump it into Moloa`a stream by diverting it through a series of three tunnels.

Though the letter was contained in the state’s Godby report’s appendix of EPA documents apparently the EPA did not investigate the ditch when they investigated and fined Pflueger’s for activities in the area about five years prior to the dam break that killed seven people in March 2006.

The letter does not refer to the dam break and apparently was written well before the event although it is undated and unsigned.

It also contains maps and photos although it says they the writers did not physically investigate the whole ditch system which it says is fairly inaccessible due to topography. They do describe the “source”-which used to be the end- as being on state land in the Moloa`a Forest Reserve and in a manner similar to the way the county report does, noting a dam, the Moloa`a stream diversion and an almost dry river bed below it.

The county report contains a description of the whole path of the ditch but does not conclude that the recent construction it noted actually reversed the flow.

Moloa`a residents noticed a severe decline in water flow occurred suddenly 10 years ago, about the time that the ditch was apparently repaired and made functional. They say the lack of water has made agricultural land in Moloa`a valley un-farmable due to lack of water.

PNN has previously reported that the 80-year old ditch master who claims to have tended the Ka Loko system said at a meeting last Wed. that the ditch fell into disuse decades ago, perhaps as long ago as the 1920’s.

Many of the suppositions about the physical set up of the ditch and the re-construction allegedly done by Pflueger that are contained in the letter were confirmed by the county survey.

The additional water that presumably flowed into Ka Loko dam has never publicly been cited as a contributory factor in the 2006 tragedy.

Pflueger is currently set to stand trial for manslaughter and is also embroiled in multiple party civil suits both of which are scheduled for trial late this summer.

Although the state and county are defendants in the civil suits, the EPA is not as yet a party to the suit despite the apparent negligence in not following up on the letter.

The letter is contained in pages 7-12 of the appendix and is followed by photos and maps which are explained in the letter.

The pdf file of the appendix is not directly convertible to text and PNN is in the process of obtaining a text copy and will update this story at a later date.

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