Ota Well Project a go: EA clears path for site development in Holualoa

  • A map of the proposed site. (Image grab from final EA/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Clockwise from top left, the proposed well site in an existing macadamia orchard; a coffee farm in the location of the proposed new access road; the existing access road to be improved for construction access; and the view along existing access road to intersection with Mamalahoa Highway. (Image grab from final EA/Special to West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — An environmental assessment related to the construction of two wells off a stretch of Mamalahoa Highway in Holualoa has received a finding of no significant impact.

The determination paves the way for the Ota Well Project, a joint venture between the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation and the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority.

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The task of bringing another water source online is tied to HHFDC’s Kamakana Villages at Keahuolu project that includes plans to develop more than 2,300 residential units in North Kona, of which 170 have already been completed. NELHA’s involvement relates to potable water needs required to complete the build out of its Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park.

Next in the process is the drilling and testing of an exploratory well on the project site to determine if yield and water quality are adequate to proceed.

If that proves to be the case, phase II would convert the exploratory well into a production well and include the construction of a 1 million gallon storage tank as well as the necessary physical implements to access and operate the site. Phase III would consist of developing a second production well and storage tank, also with a 1 million gallon capacity.

According to the EA, the total cost of the three-phase development is estimated at $18.9 million “in 2018 dollars.”

NELHA is set to handle planning, development and construction for the Ota Well Project. Once completed, NELHA will hand over management and maintenance of the wells to the Hawaii County Department of Water Supply.

DWS has been plagued over the last few years by an unusually high rate of equipment failure at several sites in North Kona, resulting in water restrictions imposed on the community and policy changes for future projects.

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Keith Okamoto, DWS manager-chief engineer, told West Hawaii Today in August that DWS will provide NELHA and its contractors input on construction to help avoid at the Ota Well site those problems that have been otherwise pervasive throughout the region.

“Once it gets to that phase, we’ll get involved with reviewing the plans,” he said. “We’re not going to accept whatever is not in line with the recommendations that we’ve seen coming from our consultant.”

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