WAIAHOLE DITCH CASE STUDY. SITUATION. Commercial sugarcane production was established in leeward O'ahu in 1896.
Commercial sugarcane production was established in leeward O'ahu in 1896.
In 1912 the Waiahole Water Company was formed to construct a ditch and tunnel system to divert stream and ground water from windward areas (Waiahole to Kahana) to the leeward sugar lands.
With the closing of O'ahu Sugar Company in early 1995, a struggle for the use of this water has pitted windward farmers and residents against leeward farmers, land owners and developers.
A Honolulu Advertiser article on October 6, 1996 (pp.B1&B4) offers the contrasting viewpoints of :
Alan Oshima (attorney for the Waiahole Irrigation Company, an Amfac subsidiary)
Vivien Lee (Waiahole resident)
ROUGH WATER AHEAD
A coming decision has major implications
for water allocation --
By Pat Omandam
Five years ago, Zeune Baccam decided growing cucumbers, string beans, soy, tomatoes, green onions and
eggplants for a living was far less demanding than his previous job raising money for the local Boy Scouts.
Today, Baccam, who immigrated from Laos to Hawaii in 1975, runs a successful cooperative of 30 small
vegetable farms in Mililani. But he said the stress has returned for all those whose livelihoods depend on
irrigation water from Waiahole Ditch.
"Without the water, we're finished," he said. "There's no other sources."
Kunia farmer Larry Jefts, whose watermelons and bell peppers grow plump with Waiahole water,
speculates it would be the end of farming on the Leeward plain if the ditch ran dry.
"That's not a hard call," Jefts said. "No water, and we're not here.” ...
Friday, December 26, 1997
Sensible compromise on Waiahole Ditch
DIVIDING the 27 million gallons of water that flowed daily through the Waiahole Ditch to irrigate Leeward cane
fields was a task that could have taxed the wisdom of Solomon. The decision by the state Water Commission
strikes a balance between the needs of Windward and Leeward Oahu -- one that appears to give appropriate
consideration to both.
The commission's final decision allots 11.39 million gallons to Windward Oahu, almost twice the amount of its
earlier proposal. However, of that amount only 6 million gallons is guaranteed to remain on the Windward side of
the Koolaus. The other 5.39 million gallons would remain in Windward streams for the present but could be
diverted to Leeward Oahu in the future. An agricultural reserve of 1.58 million gallons, designated for Leeward
agriculture, would also remain on the Windward side for now. Leeward Oahu is awarded direct access to 15.61
million gallons, with the prospect of considerably more as needed.
Windward advocates denounced the decision, calling it politically motivated -- a charge that could have been
expected because they had proposed that all the Waiahole water remain on the Windward side. Their argument has
been that the water is needed to replenish streams that formerly nourished taro beds before the construction of the
ditch 81 years ago, and otherwise restore the environment.
However, even the minimum guaranteed allotment of six million gallons represents a historic shift of resources
back to the Windward side. And for the present at least, considerably more water would remain on the Windward
Wednesday, February 11, 1998
Waiahole Ditch purchase moves forward in Senate
But some folks claim the state purchase will benefit landowners, not farmers
By Pat Omandam
Waiahole farmer John Reppun has a lot of respect for Mililani farmers who depend on irrigation
Waiahole Ditch for their livelihoods.
Reppun, however, doesn't believe the state should pay $10.2 million to buy the ditch system, because the
state, by law, has sole control to regulate the 27 million gallons of water that flow through it each day.
The committees on Economic Development, and on Water, Land and Hawaiian Affairs, forwarded a
Senate bill that authorizes the state to spend $10.2 million in reimbursable general obligation bonds
to buy the Waiahole system. It would take about 20 years to pay off the bonds.
Expenses to the state
Purchase price of the ditch: $10.2 million
Estimated annual operating cost: $550,000
Cost of needed repairs: $1.2 million
Typical section of ditch
Gauge near Mililani
Redwood stave siphon
(Star-Bulletin July 12, 1998)
This case came before the Hawaii Water Commission in 1996. The Commission’s decision was to split the water flow so that allocation is as follows:
(Leeward or Windward)
This decision is being appealed by several parties.
In 1999 the State purchased the ditch for $8.5 million -- users will be charged 35 cents per 4000 liters.