Wednesday, May 27, 2009



(PNN) There is apparently a portion of the Moloa`a Ditch system that was seemingly designed to return water from the recently illegally reconstructed Moloa`a Ditch to Moloa`a Stream, according to local architect and engineer Juan Wilson.

A map produced by Wilson and posted as part of a Moloa`a Diversion Forensics
article on his Island Breath web site depicts what he says is the system of ditches that feed into Ka Loko reservoir which gave way in 2006 killing seven people in Waiakalua valley.

The map shows Moloa`a Stream and tributaries in light blue toward the bottom of the frame. Ka Loko Reservoir is at the right in blue and with a potion of Moloa`a ditch running left to right in the center in blue, connecting the point of diversion of the water out of Moloa`a Stream’s Kalawa`a tributary (a potato chip shaped blue patch at the left) with the Ka Loko ditch system at a point just to the left of the reservoir.

Then the water apparently connects to and dumps into Ka Loko Reservoir.

But there is also a blue a section that runs from where all the ditches come together just above (to the left) the reservoir and lead back to the Moloa`a stream watershed.

Wilson says this may be a section of the Moloa`a Ditch system that was apparently designed as a safety feature to take excess water out of the system and return it to Moloa`a Stream and was designed to prevent the Ka Loko Reservoir from taking in more water than it could hold.

The elevation of the point just above the reservoir is more than a hundred feet higher than the point where it connects to Kalawa`a stream so it could only run in that direction according to Wilson.

PNN previously reported, first that a letter to the EPA said the main Moloa`a Ditch may have had its flow reversed 10 years ago but later reported that that, according to other documents, was apparently not the case. Wilson’s depiction may shed light on the discrepancy.

It’s unknown at this time whether the section in question was reconstructed when the diversion, as described above, was established about 10 years ago according to a recent county-funded study on agricultural water in the Moloa`a-to-Kilauea area, all centered around Ka Loko Reservoir.

It is apparently not referred to in any documents in the reports as being currently functional.

Though no proof exists as to who did the 10 year old work diverting Moloa`a Stream water, all evidence points to land owner Jimmy Pflueger who did extensive work in the area prior to the dam break and is scheduled to stand trial for manslaughter and in numerous civil cases this summer in connection with the dam break.

The map was put together by Wilson using Google Earth 3D and his work on cataloguing ahupua`a on Kaua`i as well as information contained in the recently released county-funded Kilauea Irrigation Water Engineering Design and Monitoring Study and state Godby Report on the dam break as depicted and provided by Hope Kallai of Malama Moloa`a.

Kallai says there are signs in the various reports that there are currently non-functional parts of the system designed to take excess water out of the ditches and return it to Moloa`a Stream before it gets to the reservoir. She says she isn’t sure where this specific depiction by Wilson fits in but that apparently there is an “clean out weir” that can dump excess water down a small valley that leads from the area above Ka Loko to either Moloa`a Stream’s Kalawa`a tributary or Moloa`a Stream proper.

The problem has been that exhibits in both reports are at times contradictory and it’s unknown whether, when the documents were prepared- some going back decades- they were based on factual material or speculation at the time.

It isn’t known how may “safety features” may have been built in the past and the one described by Wilson may, Kallai says, be one of as may as three according to the documents.

Kallai says that it seems that she believes that water can be returned to Moloa`a Stream as easily as turning a valves to release the water, citing a time when this apparently happened for a period of days last summer during the time the county study was being conducted when the valve was turned and she and others noted that Moloa`a Stream flowed as it had prior to the diversion 10 years ago.

What is apparent is that currently no water return mechanism is in use.

For further details see the left rail for prior PNN reports on the theft of Moloa`a Water. PNN will continue to follow the story as details emerge.

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