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Officials say water will be returned to Waimea River

Updated: 
April 20, 2017 - 10:10am

WAIMEA, Kauai — Hawaii officials announced that water that has been diverted for 100 years will finally be returned to the Waimea River.

The Hawaii Commission on Water Resource Management approved a settlement in a complaint to stop the diversion Tuesday, The Garden Island reported. The state began diverting the water in the early 1900s with the establishment of the Kekaha Sugar Plantation’s ditch systems.

The agreement states that tens of millions of gallons of water will be restored to the river daily. The restored water flow will provide water for homesteading and farming, and open up the possibility for a renewable energy project, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said in its release.

“On behalf of the state of Hawaii Agribusiness Development Corporation and the Kekaha Agriculture Association, we are honored and proud to be part of a community that was able to resolve this critical issue through collaboration. This agreement establishes a foundation upon which farmers can build the future of agriculture on the Westside of Kauai,” said James Nakatami, executive director of the ADC.

A 2013 compliant by the Po’ai Wai Ola/West Kauai Watershed Alliance claimed that too much water was being taken from the river. The parties involved say that they are pleased that they were able to settle the matter in a year’s time.

“Today’s agreement ensures, that for the first time in over 100 years, life-giving water will once again flow continuously in Waimea River, from mauka (mountain) to makai (sea), which is vital for the health of the river and our community,” said Galen Kaohi, president of Po’ai Wai Ola.

Typically, water disputes in Hawaii take many years or decades to resolve, state Board of Land and Natural Resources Chairwoman Suzanne Case.

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